Can a child contest a will if excluded in South Africa

Can a child contest a will if excluded in South Africa: In South Africa, a child has the legal right to contest a will if they have been excluded from it. The process of contesting a will can be complex and time-consuming, so it is important for a child to understand their rights and the steps they need to take in order to contest a will.

How a child can contest a will if excluded according to South African Law

Step 1: Understand the legal grounds for contesting a will

In order to contest a will, a child must have legal grounds for doing so. The most common grounds for contesting a will in South Africa include:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity: This means that the testator (the person who made the will) did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of the will at the time it was made.
  • Undue influence: This means that the testator was coerced or pressured into making a will that did not reflect their true wishes.
  • Fraud or forgery: This means that the will is not valid because it was created through fraud or forgery.

Step 2: Gather evidence

In order to contest a will, a child must have evidence to support their claim. This can include:

  • Medical records or other evidence of the testator’s lack of testamentary capacity at the time the will was made.
  • Witnesses who can attest to undue influence or coercion.
  • Expert testimony from a handwriting analyst or other expert in the case of fraud or forgery.
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Step 3: File a notice of intention to contest

Once a child has gathered the necessary evidence, they must file a notice of intention to contest the will with the Master of the High Court. This notice must be filed within six months of the date of the testator’s death.

Step 4: Attend the hearing

After the notice of intention to contest has been filed, the Master of the High Court will set a date for a hearing. At the hearing, the child must present their evidence and make their case for why the will should be set aside. The executor of the will will also have the opportunity to present evidence and argue for the validity of the will.

Step 5: Wait for the decision

After the hearing, the Master of the High Court will make a decision on whether to set aside the will. This decision may take several weeks or even months. If the will is set aside, the Master of the High Court will distribute the deceased’s assets in accordance with the laws of intestate succession.

It is important to note that contesting a will can be a complex and time-consuming process. It is recommended that a child seeking to contest a will seek legal advice from an attorney with experience in this area.

Which Legal Acts Support a Child to Contest a Will

In South Africa, a child can contest a will if they have been excluded through the use of the following act:

  1. The Administration of Estates Act, 1965: This act allows a child to contest a will if they have been excluded or not adequately provided for. A child can apply to the court for the alteration of a will if they believe that the will does not adequately provide for them.
  2. The Children’s Act, 2005: This act provides for the protection and care of children and also includes provisions for children who have been excluded from a will. A child can apply to the court for maintenance and support if they have been excluded from a will.
  3. The Maintenance Act, 1998: This act allows a child to claim maintenance from a deceased parent’s estate if they have been excluded from the will.
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It is important to note that a child will have to prove to the court that they have been excluded or not adequately provided for in the will in order to successfully contest it. A legal representative should be consulted in order to understand the process and to have a better chance of winning the case.