Already signed up?

Log in with your SA ID number.

How does the Law of Intestate Succession work?

If there isn’t a will, how does the Law of Intestate Succession work in South Africa?

If someone dies without a will in South Africa, his estate will be administered in terms of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. 'Intestate succession’ means that your property and money will be passed on according to the “states will”.

This is not always easy to understand. What it means is that your property and assets will be passed on in one of the following ways:

If you had a spouse, but no children, your spouse will inherit everything. If there is a spouse and children, your estate will be divided among them according to a specific formula. Your spouse will inherit R250 000 or a child’s share, whichever is greater.

This is best explained by an example. Say you had a wife and two children and your estate is worth R800 000. The amount is then divided by three (= R266 666). Everyone will receive this amount – your wife gets a 'child's share' as the amount for each person is higher than R250 000. Alternatively, if your estate was only worth R500 000, your wife will get R250 000, and the rest will be divided among the children.

This is best explained by an example: Say your estate is worth R900 000 & you have a wife and two children. The amount is then divided by three (Everyone will receive R300 000) i.e. your wife gets a 'child's share' as the amount for each person is higher than R250 000.
If your estate was only worth R500 000, your wife will get R250 000, and the rest will be divided among the children (R125 000 each).

If there is no spouse or children, but there are parents, they will inherit your estate in equal shares. If there is only one surviving parent they will inherit half of your estate and the other half of the estate will be inherited by the descendants of the deceased parent (your siblings). If there are no descendants of the deceased parent the full estate will pass to the surviving parent. If there are no surviving parents, your estate will be divided among your brothers and sisters.
Should there be no brothers and sisters: Other blood relations will inherit nearest in degree, in equal shares. (Nieces and nephews.) In the event of the deceased having no relatives, the estate will be forfeited to the state after 30 years if no legitimate heir comes forward.

What are the advantages of having a will?

You choose who you want to inherit – you have control

The most important advantage of having a will is the fact that you can choose your beneficiaries. The selection need not only be family. Anyone can be named in a will. Anyone can be excluded too.

You want to leave a friend or charity some money

You can bequest a specific amount to a friend or even to a charity. On the other hand, if you die intestate, only your blood relatives will get a fixed and identical portion each of the total estate.

You can protect your Children

In choosing to have a will, you can protect ultimate beneficiaries. For example, you can nominate a guardian to care for your minor children or create a testamentary trust for them.

Cost implications

If you have a will, you can also choose to employ estate duty savings which will be lost without a will. Without a will, there will also be additional costs to your estate in the form of legal fees, income tax or VAT.

There is no reason why you can’t get a will right now.

Need to update and old will? Even if you have an old will - the minute you sign a new on the old one becomes invalid.

With the advent of technology and the introduction of cutting edge FidTech online solutions you can create and update a will in the palm of your hand.

SmartWill works alongside top Fiduciary lawyers to ensure that you can create a will, quickly, and professionally taking all legal requirements into account and physically checking your will to ensure it is valid at an affordable price.

You can find out more at

Posted in Intestate Succession on Jul 21, 2019


Who we work with.

We pride ourselves on being forward thinkers, with a focus on customer excellence.

Our trusted partners include:

Estate Plan
the courier guy

Sign up for free to get started

First Name
Last Name  
ID Number
Promo Code
Don't have an SA ID number? Please contact us.

* Feel free to explore the process. Please note, however, that the finalisation of your will requires a payment of R550.
Get R100 off if you refer someone :-)
More on Smartwill's products >


What some of our customers think.

"The process of updating my will was so overwhelming that I had snoozed the reminder on my to-do list since my my second child was born... and he is almost three. Then I found SmartWill.
The website is so intuitive and extremely simple. I found myself wondering whether it was too simplistic! The website guides you through an easy, step-by-step process that you can complete in your own time, in the comfort of your home. It takes an overwhelming task, and breaks it down into easy-to-answer questions. The cost is nominal, the quality is extraordinary. You don’t need to make an appointment with a lawyer, yet your will is reviewed by a lawyer. The whole process was so streamlined, I really can’t fault it. I strongly recommend that you just take the first step. The rest is easy." - Tanya Hanekom
"A will is always the lowest item on most people's daily priority list, but SmartWill helps make it as easy and seamless as possible. With the ability to dip in and out of the website when you have time to complete the details. With constant but not overbearing email reminders, and good advice from real people when you need it, the overall adds up to an excellent service for the price. Thanks SmartWill I can sleep a little easier now!" - Charles Edwards

As seen on: