The requirements for a valid will are:
- It must be signed on the last page of the document. (It is preferable that the Testator and/or Testatrix sign each page).
- The will must be signed by two or more competent witnesses. (A testator / testatrix is not restricted to only two witnesses.)
- The witnesses and will signatories must sign in each other’s presence.
- Should the will run to more than one page, the witnesses and will signatories must also sign all other pages, anywhere on the page. (It is preferable that the witnesses to also sign at the bottom of the other pages.)
- Should the will be signed by the signatories by making a mark, or by some other person on behalf v. of the signatories, a Commissioner of Oaths must place a certificate at the end of the document that s/he has satisfied himself/herself on the identity of the signatories and that the will is that signatories’ will. Should the will comprise of more than one page, the Commissioner of Oaths must sign all other pages as well.
Amendments to a will must also be confirmed by the signatories and the witnesses and the conditions contained in (iii) and (v) above, also apply.
A video cannot be accepted as a valid Will as it does not comply with the Act by implication. The required signatures are omitted.
The Will cannot be accepted as valid without a court application.
Other general requirements of a will:
The witnesses to a will:
- must be mentally capable;
- must be 14 years of age or older; —
- may sign in any colour ink but preferably in black (but not in pencil); —
- may be a member of the family provided neither s/he nor his/her spouse has been nominated –an heir, executor, trustee or guardian in the will. (A witness or his/her spouse may not receive any benefit in terms of the will where s/he signed as a witness, barring the exceptions discussed below.);
- The Wills Act does not prescribe that the place and date of signing must be affixed to a will, however, some trust companies insist on this to be able to identify a customer’s latest will, and to protect the customer’s interests.
- It is also not necessary to refer to one’s marital state, place of residence or maiden name in a will.
- The will must be stored safely and the executor (and a family member/s) advised of the location.