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“I recently updated my testament to include my brother John and I bequeathed to him my motor vehicle. What will happen to my vehicle if my brother dies before me?
02 April 2019  | Dries Knoetze

The current legal position is fairly straight forward in this regard, in that one can only bequeath something to a living person, alternatively only in the event that specific instructions are made within the testament can one still bequeath.

Thus, if you bequeath your vehicle to your brother in your testament and your brother is predeceased, (which means dies before you), your vehicle will still remain your property and will be dealt with in your estate and will form part of the remainder of the property not dealt with in your will.  

There is however, exceptions to the rule and therefore it is of the utmost importance that you, when drafting your testament to obtain legal knowledge from an expert attorney in order to prevent unnecessary litigation after your death.  

One of the exceptions are that when drafting your testament, you may include a provision in your testament wherein you expressly deal with situations in the event that one of your heirs are predeceased, for example that “should my brother become predeceased then in that event my vehicle will be bequeathed to my brother’s son” or “should my brother become predeceased then in that event my vehicle will still form part of the remainder of my estate and shall be dealt with accordingly”.  

The abovementioned is the position when a person dies testate; meaning with a testament in place, the situation however differs if a person dies intestate, meaning without leaving a testament.  

In terms of the current legal position when a person dies intestate an heir will inherent irrespective whether same is predeceased or not. Normally the inheritance will form part of that person’s estate and will then be dealt with by either his/her testament or in cases of intestate in terms of the intestate act.  

It should be noted that in the event that all your heirs are predeceased, your entire estate might be forfeited to the state if no heirs are identified.  

It is therefore of extreme importance that you ensure that you have a valid and lawful testament in the event of your untimely demise.  

Tags: Will