Freedom of testation

In your will, you have the freedom to distribute your assets to whomever you choose. This means that you can determine who will receive your property, money, or other possessions after your passing. The principle of freedom of testation allows you to have complete discretion over the beneficiaries of your estate.

The Constitutional Court has accepted that freedom of testation ‘is fundamental to testate succession’ and that it forms part of s 25(1) of the Constitution, in that it protects a person’s right to dispose of his or her assets, upon death, as he or she wishes.

The Court, in Harvey NO and Others v Crawford NO and Others referred to this principle as follows:

‘The right of ownership permits an owner to do with her thing as she pleases, provided that it is permitted by the law. The right to dispose of the thing is central to the concept of ownership and is a deeply entrenched principle of our common law. Disposing of one’s property by means of executing a will or trust deed are manifestations of the right of ownership. The same holds true under the Constitution.’

Whether it’s family members, friends, charitable organizations, or even individuals outside of your immediate circle, you have the authority to specify your chosen beneficiaries in your will. This principle recognizes and respects your autonomy and personal wishes regarding the distribution of your assets.

By exercising your freedom of testation, you can ensure that your assets go to those individuals or entities that hold significance to you. However, it’s important to consult with a legal professional or estate planner to ensure that your will is properly drafted and legally valid, adhering to the applicable laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.

Remember that while you have the freedom to distribute your assets as you please, it’s also advisable to consider the potential implications of your choices. It can be helpful to think about your loved ones’ needs, financial situations, and the overall impact your decisions may have on them.