Sanette de Jager
If I die without a will, the state inherits everything. A verbal promise is good enough. I have the right to inherit from my parents. There are many rumours about wills. Here are a few of them, and the correct versions.
1. The assets of an estate are sold immediately
False. The executor of every will must at all times make sure that the wishes of the will are carried out. He may only sell assets as provided for in the will, or at the request of an heir, or if insufficient cash is available to pay claims.
2. Lawsuits and contracts expire if one of the parties die
False. The executor of a will must make sure that all contracts entered into by the deceased are honoured unless a contract explicitly stipulates that it expires upon death. If the deceased was involved in a civil case it will proceed on the condition that all pleas were finalised before the death of the deceased. However, a criminal case against the deceased will lapse automatically.
3. Interest will stop accumulating upon death
False. Interest receivable on your savings account and investments will only stop accumulating upon withdrawal and closing of the account by the executor. Interest payable on debt, such as mortgages and hire-purchase agreements only stops accumulating when the debt has been repaid.
4. Signing rights and powers of attorney lapse upon death
True. Only the executor may, after he has been appointed by the Master, withdraw funds and sign documents.
5. The executor must make arrangements for the funeral
False. Only funeral or cremation costs and the cost of a gravestone are admissible claims against the estate and are of concern to the executor. Other costs, for example telephone and accommodation costs and the cost of refreshments served after the funeral, cannot be claimed, unless authorised by the will.
6. A will is a contract
False. A will is a statement by one person regarding his last wishes. A contract is entered into by two or more people. The executor’s fees may well be regarded as a contract.
7. I am free to write anything into my will
False. You may not stipulate anything in your will that would require the executor to transgress the laws of your country or any rule. Also you may not put in provisions that go against the public morals, for instance that your son will inherit on condition that he divorces his wife.