Feeling Left Out? Challenging a Will Explained

Challenging a Will

Thinking about contesting a will? You’re not alone. Sometimes, wills can be surprising and leave beneficiaries feeling unfairly treated. But before you take action, it’s crucial to understand the legal grounds for challenging a will in South Africa.

Who Can Make a Will?

In South Africa, anyone over 16 can make a will, as long as they understand the consequences of their actions at the time of writing. This is called “testamentary capacity.”

Why Challenge a Will?

There are several reasons why someone might contest a will:

  • Newer Will: A newer will can revoke an older one, leaving beneficiaries named in the older will out of the inheritance.
  • Undue Influence: Someone might believe the testator (the person who made the will) was pressured or manipulated into changing their wishes by a specific person.
  • Lack of Capacity: There’s concern the testator may have been mentally unfit due to illness, medication, or other factors at the time the will was written.

Challenging the Will:

If you believe a will is invalid, you’ll need to apply to the Master of the High Court. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Burden of Proof: You, the challenger, must prove the will is invalid “on a balance of probabilities.” This means providing evidence more likely to be true than not.
  • Grounds for Challenge: You’ll need to present evidence supporting your claim of incapacity or undue influence. This might include medical records, witness statements, or even financial transactions.
  • What Happens Next: If you succeed, the will is declared invalid. If no other valid will exists, the estate will be distributed according to South Africa’s Intestate Succession Act, which outlines inheritance rights for those who die without a will.

Important Note: Challenging a will can be a complex and costly process. It’s crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified attorney experienced in estate law. They can assess your case, advise on the best course of action, and represent you in court if necessary.

Call to Action:

If you have questions about a will or believe it may be invalid, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Our experienced legal team can help you understand your options and guide you through the legal process. We understand this can be a stressful time, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

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