A joint will is a document containing the wills of two or more persons set out in one document for the convenience of those who instructed the drafting of a joint will. A typical example of a joint will is where A and B decide to draft a joint will, in which they declare and bequeath the whole of their joint estates to C and D in equal shares, subject to the usufruct in favour of the survivor of A and B, until his or her death.
As referred to in section 37 of the Administration of Estate Act, refers to the massing of two or more persons’ massing (joining together) their separate estates. Estate massing can be done by two or more persons massing their entire estate or a portion thereof.
The joint massed estate of the deceased or the survivor can then be bequeathed to an heir or heirs nominated in joint will, subject to the survivor benefitting from the joint estate. For example, the survivor of A and B (in the above scenario) will benefit in terms of a usufruct over the entire joint estate.
Difference between a joint will and an individual will
A joint will is a document containing the wills of two or more persons, set out in one document. Whereas an individual will is a document in which one person instructs how she or he would like her or his estate to devolve.
Disadvantage of a joint will Upon the death of the first dying person, the will of the survivor, contained in the joint will is delivered to the Master’s office to report the deceased’s estate. Documents lodged at the Master’s office are public documents, which means that the will can be viewed by any member of the public. It is therefore recommended that separate wills be drafted, which can contain the same provisions that the parties wish to include in a joint will so that the surviving person’s will remains confidential.
Author: Keegan Cloete