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Intestate Succession

- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA

What Happens to Your Estate If You Die Without a Will?

When a person dies, his Estate is distributed according to the manner prescribed by the Intestate Succession Act, 1987.

If the person dies without leaving a Will, then his Estate would be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. Under these laws your closest relatives will inherit from you. This means that your assets may not be distributed as you would have wished to happen.

Therefore if you did not leave behind a will stipulating how you would like your estate to be distributed, the State will do so for you according to the laws which govern our country.

Your marital regime also makes a difference as to how your estate will devolve upon your death. If a person does not draw up a Will his/her property will be divided amongst the spouse (if any / living) and all children.

If the person was married In Community Of Property and the total Estate is R125 000.00 or less, the surviving spouse usually inherits all the property.

Where there are no children, no parent, no brother or sister, the surviving spouse inherits the whole Estate. In this situation, if there are grandparents, aunts, uncles , nephews or nieces, they would not inherit.

If the deceased's children have predeceased him, the deceased children’s' share will go to their children in equal shares.

Where there are no children nor surviving spouse, the deceased's parents would benefit.

As stipulated above, if a person fails to make a Will, any personal assets and property left behind are distributed according to the Laws on Intestacy.

In such an event the distribution may not be exactly what the deceased person would have wished to happen.

Many people assume that when they die their total Estate passes to their spouse and/or children, as they would have wished, but this is not necessarily true in all cases and is dependent on other factors and personal wealth.

Date: 7th February 2014
Legislation: Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987

Intestate Succession - Legal Information South Africa