SCA rules suicide note valid as a new will

The SCA has ruled that a suicide note was intended to be an amendment of a man’s will

Section 2(3) of the Wills Act 7 of 1953, reads as follows:

‘If a Court is satisfied that a document or the amendment of a document drafted or executed by a person who has died since the drafting or execution thereof, was intended to be his will or an amendment of his will, the court shall order the Master to accept that document, or that document as amended, for the purposes of the Administration of Estates Act, 1965 (Act 66 of 1965), as a will, although it does not comply with all the formalities for the execution or amendment of wills referred to in subsection (1)’.
The SCA has ruled that a suicide note was intended to be an amendment of a man’s will as contemplated by section 2(3) of the Wills Act, says a Business Day report. Walter Smith, who committed suicide in 2007, had a will that left everything he owned to his son. However, the suicide note changed it by stating that his house, the money in a bank account and cash in the safe should be given to Heather Smith, a woman who had been staying with him for four years. In his judgment upholding Heather’s appeal, Acting Judge Willie Seriti said Walter was giving clear instructions on what should happen to his house. ‘There is no ambiguity in the statement.’ Seriti also said Smith was giving an instruction that the money in the account should be given to Heather. ‘The instruction clearly demonstrates his wish as to what should happen to the money.’ Seriti said another telling indication that Smith wanted the note to be acted upon were the following words at the end of the note: ‘My will is in the brown envelope in the safe. I leave everything else to my son.’ According to the report, Senti said Smith knew he had a will and that it did not make provision for Heather, hence the instructions in the note.

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