Elements of a valid will

13 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog

If you don't want your estate to be distributed as per the rule of intestate succession, then you need to draft a will. The final result of estate succession doesn't always match the wishes of the testator. In contrast, a will affords you the chance to organise your estate as you deem fit subject to legal regulations. However, a drafted will is only effective if it satisfies certain conditions. To make sure the testator's last wishes are fully implemented and disagreements avoided, it's important to be cognisant of likely sources of errors in regards to wills. Read on for more insight.

Handwritten and signed

To this end, it's important for the entire will document to be handwritten and signed by the testator. In cases where the will is drafted by a third party and basically signed by the testator, the will may not be effective arising from potential doubts regarding the authenticity of the text and signature. Bear in mind that the present jurisprudence dictates that there should be a sufficient degree of certainty which eliminates any reasonable doubt regarding the authenticity of a will. A handwritten and signed will by the testator is one of the factors that proves the will's authenticity.


If the date isn't properly specified in a will, then it makes it quite difficult to ascertain the exact time the testator wrote his or her final will. In effect, a will without a date may be rendered invalid. Therefore, the relevant date should be clearly recognized in the will. Although an incorrect date or missing to specify the date initially doesn't automatically make your will invalid, it ought then to be possible to determine the precise date from the rest of the will's text.

Suitable heading

The will must also include an appropriate heading so that it is beyond reasonable doubt that the document spells out the testator's last wishes. Note that this also applies to consequent additions or alterations as well.

Unambiguous wording

To avoid any misinterpretations from arising, the will's wording should be unambiguous. It should be clearer from the will what the testator wished to achieve. In fact, clear wording reduces the possibility of disputes and gives the testator more assurance that his or her testamentary dispositions will be correctly implemented based on his or her wishes.

Wills and estate lawyers can help you in preparing a clear-cut will as well with respect to other legal regulations involving inheritance.