To renounce or not to renounce a benefit in terms of a will?

02 April 2024 ,  Puleng Valentine Tladi 31

In terms of section 2C (1) of the Succession Wills Act 7 of 1953, “if any descendant of a testator, excluding a minor or mentally ill descendant, who, together with the surviving spouse of the testator, is entitled to a benefit in terms of a will renounces his right to receive such a benefit, such benefit shall vest in the surviving spouse”.

What the above entails is the following; if in terms of your will, your surviving spouse and descendants, are entitled to inherit and one of your children decides to renounce his or her share, the surviving spouse shall inherit that portion of that inheritance, which was declined by the descendant.

A mental patient or an insolvent person cannot renounce his or her inheritance. In Van Heerden N.O and Another[1], the renunciation by the insolvent was declared invalid and unenforceable. The court ordered that the inheritance shall vest in the trustees of the insolvent estate.

Once you decide to renounce a benefit, in terms of a will, you cannot comeback and say you’ve changed your mind. Unless, you apply to the High Court to declare that renunciation invalid.