SA under lockdown: Spike in demand for wills and divorce applications

SA under lockdown: Spike in demand for wills and divorce applications

South Africans are scrambling to ensure that their affairs are in order as the threat of mortality becomes increasingly stark during the global pandemic currently facing us. 

According to one of South Africa’s largest will and testament drafting firms, Capital Legacy, the recent uncertainty has prompted a distinct increase in requests for estates to be sured up and for wills to be drafted. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has focused everyone’s attention on the possibility of passing away and the uncertainty of life,” said CEO Alex Simeonides.

House in order

Between January and March this year, Capital Legacy said they’ve seen a 660% increase in enquiries for wills, compared to the same period last year. These numbers also climbed compared to the three months prior.

“In traditionally our quietest period, January to March, we received over 3 800 direct enquiries for assistance with wills,” he said.

“Compare this to the 500 direct enquiries we received in the same period last year.”

He said that there are some problems posed by lockdown regulations when it comes to getting wills finalized, with witnesses and other relevant parties unable to co-sign the documents as they usually would. 

He said that there is currently no digital contingency for the signing of wills, as the documents need to be signed by relevant witnesses in person. 

“And there is a high likelihood that the people they are in isolation with, are also the beneficiaries to their wills and can therefore not sign as witnesses. These are both requirements for a will to be valid in court.”

Divorces to rise

Divorces are also projected to be a post-lockdown priority, with partners forced to spend more time getting to know one another than they might like. 

Krouwkams Attorneys have already received more applications for divorce than they are used to. 

“We’re not used to being with our partners for such extended periods of time, and if you’ve spent your life just coping with your partner – not really sharing a life and communicating adequately – this time in lockdown is going to be an extremely challenging time,” said attorney Olivia Krouwkams

“People think they need to go through mediation only when they want a divorce, but if there are disputes, such as those in the family unit, that you just can’t seem to resolve, this is something you can bring to mediation,” she says.

Krouwkams said that her firm is offering digital mediation sessions for anyone interested in managing tensions arising within their marriage during lockdown. 

“Especially in this time, it can help to have a third party look at your problems from a new perspective and to find a strategy that fulfils both party’s needs.”

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Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/lockdown-divorce-wills-covid-19-2020/

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