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Put it in writing!


Put it in writing!

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WOMEN?SHOULD make married men “get divorced” before getting into a secondary relationship with them; otherwise they can be disadvantaged if the man dies before they do.
This and other advice was given to women when attorney-at-law Verla DePeiza highlighted the various reasons they should make a will as she spoke on the Importance Of Estate Planning at the Young Women’s Christian Association in Deacons Road, last Saturday.
She pointed out to women the amount of consideration given to a “spouse” even when children were involved, “if no will was written”.
DePeiza, who explained that a will was a document that “speaks for you after you can no longer speak to yourself,” and could be written from the time you reached a minimum of 18 years with a few exceptions, said that without a Will, the Succession Act clearly stated how estates could be shared, and in each case the spouse held an important place.
“The legislation states that if there is a spouse and one child, the spouse takes two-thirds and the child gets one-third. If there is a spouse and more than one child the spouse takes one-third and the children share two-third. If there are no children the spouse takes two-third and the next of kin takes one-third,” she revealed.
DePeiza also stated that men or women who omitted the spouse from the Will, could also leave spouses to rival children for their rightful share under the claim of “spousal election”.
“If there is a spouse and you have left everything for the child, the spouse can actually contest it because there is something called Spousal Election. Under Section 94 of the Succession Act, if a spouse is not satisfied with what has been left for them, they can within six months notify the executor that instead of what was left for them, they intend to take their half of the estate if it’s only one child, or their one-third of the will if there are minor children, and the beneficiary will take the rest,” she explained.
As DePeiza highlighted the various aspects of the law and the numerous things that could occur if a “will was not written”, those attending began to see the importance of the document instead of seeing it as “death paper”.
But what also caught their interest was the fact that women “could not be seen as spouses” to “married men”, even if cohabiting with them for several years.
“Any of you ladies who are living with men who have not closed that door, make sure they close it before they open another one with you, because they are only creating problems for you further down the road,” she advised.
The lawyer pointed out that under the legislation, if a man did not divorce his wife, even if they were separated and living apart for numerous years, then the “outside woman” could not be considered “the spouse” because he had not “totally severed ties”.
Depieza, putting it in simpler terms, told women that “unless the married man makes a will that includes you then you cannot claim to be spouse, no matter how long he had been separated”, since for a man to have two spouses would be a case of bigamy.
The only comforting fact in situations like that, she stated, was that wives “who had been separated from their husbands for more than two years in one instance, and more than a period of five years in total, became disinherited and could not claim to be “spouse” either.