MYTHS REGARDING WILLS AND DECEASED ESTATES

If you die without a valid Will, your assets are automatically forfeited to the State.  Everyone has a right to inherit from a parent.  An oral promise of an inheritance is a valid promise. These are all myths, and here are some other misunderstood points: Due to freedom of testation you can basically say anything you like in your Will.  No. For example, in your Will you cannot ask your executor to carry out your wishes, if to do so would invalidate Acts of Parliament, promulgated regulations or other rules. Nor may you make stipulations contra bonos mores (contrary to public morals), for example by making your son’s inheritance conditional upon his divorcing his wife. You may also not divest a parent of guardianship of his or her biological child. A Will is a contract. No. Strictly speaking, a contract is an agreement between two or more persons, whereas a Will is a unilateral declaration of your last wishes.  However, the executor’s fee arrangements in a Will may be regarded as an enforceable contract.   It is the duty of an executor to make funeral arrangements. No.  However, if he does so, it is in his personal capacity. Only funeral costs (burial or cremation) and the cost of a gravestone (or a niche in a vault, or columbarium) are permissible claims against the estate. Other costs, for example telephone and travelling costs and the cost of funeral refreshments, cannot be claimed unless authorised in your Will. Do signing powers and power of attorney lapse at death? Yes.  Only the executor may, once he has been appointed by the Master,...