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Court case on will not executed properly – Crossman v The Master of the High Court, Johannesburg and Others

Crossman v The Master of the High Court, Johannesburg and Others [2021] ZAGPJHC 443

The applicant (C) brought an application under sec 2(3) of the Wills Act, 7 of 1953 (the Act) for the declaration as a valid will of a document which did not comply with the formalities for a valid will as set out in sec 2(1) of the Act. C also applied to be declared competent to inherit under sec 4A(2)(a) of the Act, despite the fact that she signed the document as one of the witnesses.

The deceased (Gregory) signed the second page of a document purporting to be his last will and testament on 24 January 2014, in the presence of C, her father, and Gregory’s brother Gareth, the third respondent (cited in the heading as the second respondent). The three in attendance all signed the second page as witnesses. The first page was not signed by anyone. Gareth and P (fourth respondent) and B (fifth respondent) alleges that Gregory did not draft the document, especially page 1 thereof, and that he never intended it to be his last will and testament. The document bequeaths Gregory’s motor cycles, motor cycle equipment, tools, protective clothing and other paraphernalia to Gareth, and the residue to C. Gareth, P, and B asked the court to declare a previous document which was deleted from Gregory’s personal computer to be his last will and testament under the provisions of sec 2(3) of the Act. A computer expert testified, however, that this document was deleted prior to 24 January 2014, when the document which forms the basis of C’s application was signed.

The court (De Wet AJ) held that, based on this evidence, everything points to a conclusion that Gregory did draft and execute the document signed on 24 January 2014, with the intention that it should be his last will and testament. The court also found that there is nothing to suggest that C unduly influenced or threatened Gregory into drafting or executing the document. The court declared the document of 24 January 2014 to be Gregory’s last will and testament and ordered the Master to accept it as such. The court also declared C to be competent to inherit under sec 4A(2)(a) of the Act.

 

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