Private wills – as opposed to charitable trusts – are considered sacrosanct, not only in South Africa but the world over.
As long as a person is of “sound mind” and not financially responsible for any minor children, they are legally entitled to pass on their assets to whoever they please and can disinherit on a whim.
But in a constitutional dispensation this is not an “absolute right” and must be balanced against equality, it has been argued in two matters that will now come before the Constitutional Court in February.
New Frame reports that one involves the inheritance rights of adult adoptees. In the other, five sisters have challenged a “males only” clause in their great-grandfather’s will.
Both challenges started in the Cape Town high court, but were unsuccessful. Then the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) failed to come to their aid. But the ConCourt has consolidated the two cases and directed the parties to submit arguments on why it should grant leave to appeal as well as the merits of both matters.
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