The Western Cape Department of Infrastructure has urged government subsidised housing beneficiaries to take advantage of the opportunity to have their wills drafted for free during National Wills Week.
National Wills Week 2023 takes place from 11 – 15 September, where participating attorneys offer basic will drafting services for free.
Head of the Infrastructure Department, Jacqueline Gooch said in many cases, the transition of property ownership, following the passing of a housing beneficiary, can be a complex and emotional process, often leading to disputes among family members.
Gooch said the department often gets requests from family members to intervene and direct home ownership after the passing of a housing beneficiary.
She said the department cannot get involved in the allocation of a house should the recipient pass, with or without a will.
“Following the initial handover, a house becomes the personal property and asset of the housing beneficiary. The onus is therefore on the recipient to indicate ownership of their house in the event of their death.
“A valid will guarantees that your loved ones have no delays and conflict with regards to your wishes for your house when you pass away,” Gooch said.
In the absence of a will, Gooch said, the deceased’s home and any assets are distributed in accordance with the Interstate Succession Act, and “this leads to outcomes that might not align with your wishes and can result in delays, potential disputes among loved ones, and increased emotional distress during an already challenging time”.
Some of the consequences of not having a will include not having control over who inherits your home; your partner may be left with nothing if you are not married; family members may argue or disagree regarding your final wishes, and it can take years to wind-up your estate.