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What is the New Wills, Estates and Succession Act?

When you have a will in place, you get a sense of peace and you know that no matter what happens, your children know what is supposed to happen. According to the New Wills, Estates and Succession Act, there are many changes to the law.

First of all, before the new law was enacted, a person who survived the death of his or her partner or parent was entitled to the listed assets in the will. Now, though, you have to survive at least five days after the person who left you his or her assets and property in order to become his or her inheritor.

The parentelic system was common, too, stating that the spouse was able to keep the spousal home for life. The new law says that a new regime can be put in place that the home can be given to the spouse to settle his or her part of the estate, but it doesn't have to.

The old law stated that you had to be 19 years old to have a will be legal. Now, anyone over the age of 16 can now put a will in place.

Another new aspect of the WESA law is that, even if you are a witness to the will, you can inherit a portion or all of the property listed in the will. You may have to prove to the court that there was no undue pressure or coercion in making this will.

The old law said that if no one was entitled to the property, then the executor inherited everything. Now, however, the entire list of assets reverts back to the government, or crown, if no one is inheriting the property listed in the will.

If something happens and you can't inherit the property or assets in the will, the property goes to an alternative beneficiary, such as a sibling or a child.

Knowing your rights going into this situation will help you in the long run. Having a lawyer by your side is always wise.

Source: The People's Law School, "The New Wills, Estates and Succession Act (WESA)," accessed April. 21, 2015

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