Any person aged 16 or more is competent to make a Will if they have the mental ability to understand the nature and effect of the act of making a Will.
If you fail to make your will before you lose your mental capacity to do so or before you die, you will 'die intestate' (i.e. without a Will). This means that all the assets that form part of your estate at the time of your death will go to those family members and relatives - and in such percentages or amounts - as is determined by the intestate succession laws (i.e. The Intestate Succession Act No. 81 of 1987).
As we can't see into the future it is important to make your Will as soon as possible. You could be involved in an accident that leaves you mentally disabled or cause your death. If you've not made your Will before then, those dearest to you might be left in a financial position you never intended. In South Africa we have 'freedom of testation', so you would be free to leave your assets to whomever you wish, even to your pet, so long as a provision is not unlawful, too vague, against good morals or impossible to perform.
With a Will you can regulate not only how your assets are to be dealt with, who is to get it and when they should get it, but also who is to ensure that your testamentary wishes are carried out.
Your last Will and testament is therefore one of the most important documents you will ever make and will have a lasting effect on those you leave behind. So, there is never a better time to make your Will than right now.
Once you've made your Will you should reconsider it regularly, so that it will continue to provide for those around you according to your wishes as your circumstances change.
See next article: Features of a Will
Disclaimer: This article has been prepared for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, or a legal opinion. The practical application of the provisions of this article will vary depending on the facts of each case. The publication, author of the article and companies or individuals providing commentary cannot be held liable in any way.