Chris Fick & Associates

Ouma Rosie lived in her Delft house for nearly 15 years with Uncle Fred before he passed on. Her children moved out and away even before Fred moved in with her. She never had a good relationship with her son (alcohol and abuse was the order of the day with him), and her daughter died too early, not sure of what. Her son’s eldest child, her grandchild Joanie, lived with the mother in George, but from time to time she visited her Ouma in Cape Town, and called every month.

Ouma’s neighbours, Chadwin and Liezel, always looked in with her, and did her shopping and other chores. When Chadwin lost his job and their landlord kicked them out, Ouma invited Chadwin and Liezel, and their 2 kids, to live in a “hokkie” in her backyard. This worked for Ouma Rosie as she was looked after well by the couple, and their kids gave her much pleasure. Chadwin also improved the house and made it more comfortable and secure.

As Oumas could not write her name anymore, she asked Pastor Dicky to help her make her will. Pastor Dicky was a commissioner of oaths also, and he could help Ouma make a valid will. Ouma decided to bequeath her house to her granddaughter in George, and not to her useless son, Reggie, who never visited her, called her or helped her with anything. But Ouma told her heir, Joanie, to sell the house to Chadwin and Liezel, after her death, at a very good price as they were the ones who were looking after her, and who improved her property.

Pastor Dicky attended to Ouma’s will by making sure that what was written in it was what Ouma wanted, and then he and 2 witnesses saw Ouma put her inked thumb print on the paper at the bottom of the will. The witnesses signed next to Ouma’s mark and Pastor Dicky signed as Commissioner and put his rubber stamp below his name. (Unfortunately, he forgot to append the certificate required in terms of the Wills Act). Read more about signing a will by making a mark.

When Ouma died, Joanie honoured her grandmother’s wish and sold the property to Chadwin and Liezel at a very good price, and received the money in cash from the couple, on signature of the contract. At that stage Ouma’s estate had not been reported yet, but Chadwin and Liezel were still living at the property and had full possession thereof. Joanie had her money and Ouma’s wishes were realised. Or so it seemed…

When Joanie, Chadwin and Liezel eventually decided to formalise everything and approached a lawyer, they learned that Ouma actually only owned ½ share in the property (when the municipality transferred the house to her, Fred was living with her (although they were not married) and his name was included as the other occupier and owner). Joany was therefore only inheriting Ouma’s ½ share in the property, and Fred’s family was not known to anybody anymore. The 2nd “surprise” was that the Master declined to accept Ouma’s will as valid as the pastor/commissioner failed to put the required certificate on the will, and therefore the will was regarded invalid. Ouma’s ½ share therefore will devolve according to the law of intestacy onto her “useless” son, father of Joanie. Joanie and her “useless” father haven’t spoken to each other in more than 20 years.

Issues to be addressed and resolved:
– Fred, deceased several years before Ouma, was the registered owner of a ½ share in Ouma’s property in Delft.
– When Fred died, Ouma did not become owner or heir of Fred’s half share, unbeknown to Ouma, and Fred.
– Ouma’s will is regarded as invalid by the Master of the High Court as it did not comply with the formal requirements of the Wills Act.
– Joanie, thinking she inherited the property, sold it to Chadwin and Liezel, took their money, and thought that was the end of the story.
– Chadwin and Liezel, thought they had legally bought the house from Joanie, paid her for it and are in occupation thereof, but…
– Joanie’s father, Reggie, feels he is entitled to the house, as son of his mother, and has no case with his daughter who doesn’t speak with him, and who took money for his house and now has nothing to show for it.
– Pastor Davey has no comment, no money, and no solution.

So, off to the lawyers we go…

To be continued…

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).