Guidelines for updating your will in South Africa: Knowing when it’s time for a revision

17 Nov 2023


Creating a will is a crucial step in securing the future of your assets and ensuring that your wishes are honored after your passing. However, laws and circumstances can change, making it essential to periodically review and update your will. In South Africa, understanding when to make these revisions is vital to maintaining the relevance and effectiveness of your testamentary intentions.

Various factors can contribute to this, including shifts in relationships, family dynamics, or alterations in your financial and personal situation. Recognising the signs that indicate it’s time for a will update is crucial for maintaining the integrity and relevance of your testamentary document in South Africa.

Signs it is time for a will update

In South Africa, there are specific situations and events that should prompt a review and potential amendment of your will:

Major life events

Any significant life change, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or the death of a beneficiary, should trigger a reassessment of your will. These events can significantly impact the distribution of your assets.

Changes in financial status

Significant alterations in your financial situation, such as a substantial increase in wealth, acquiring new assets, or encountering financial difficulties, may necessitate adjustments to your will to reflect your current circumstances accurately.

Legal developments

Changes in the legal landscape or tax regulations may affect the execution of your will. Staying informed about legal developments ensures that your will complies with the latest laws and regulations, optimising its effectiveness.

Relationship dynamics

Strained relationships or evolving dynamics among beneficiaries, executors, or guardians may warrant a review of your will. Ensuring that your will aligns with your current relationships can prevent potential disputes in the future.


The individuals you appointed as executors are no longer able or willing to act, or they have relocated outside of South Africa.


You move outside of South Africa, which may have implications for the execution of your will under different legal jurisdictions.


The individuals appointed as guardians for your minor or dependent adult children are no longer suitable due to changes in their age, location, or other circumstances.

Family additions

Becoming a parent, guardian, or grandparent may prompt the need to include new beneficiaries or modify existing provisions.

Health and financial changes

If someone in your life (spouse, partner, child, or grandchild) is diagnosed with an illness or experiences a significant injury affecting their abilities or financial independence, your will may need updating.


In conclusion, regularly revisiting and updating your will in South Africa is a responsible and proactive approach to safeguarding your legacy. By staying attuned to major life events, financial changes, legal developments, and evolving relationships, you can ensure that your will accurately reflects your wishes and stands up to legal scrutiny. It is recommended to consult with legal professionals to navigate the complexities of the South African legal system and ensure that your will remains a reliable and comprehensive document throughout your life.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

Roy Bregman is an accredited divorce mediator and specialises in: - Drafting of antenuptial and postnuptial contracts; - Winding up of deceased estates; - Arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution;...


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