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Business Day Spotlight

PODCAST | Unmarried partners could have claim to entire estate should one die

Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by David Thomson, senior legal adviser at Sanlam Trust, to discuss proposed changes to the law

08 March 2022 - 10:15 By Mudiwa Gavaza
Two acts — the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act — are set for amendments within the next 18 months, which may extend the definition of ‘spouse’ to include all life partners. Stock photo.
Two acts — the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act — are set for amendments within the next 18 months, which may extend the definition of ‘spouse’ to include all life partners. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Sebnem Ragiboglu

Changes to how unmarried people in long-term relationships living together are viewed by SA’s laws are the focus of this edition of the Business Day Spotlight.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by David Thomson, senior legal adviser at Sanlam Trust, to discuss the proposed changes to the law.

Two acts — the Intestate Succession Act and Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act — are set for amendments within the next 18 months, which may extend the definition of “spouse” to include all life partners. 

Thomson says this may have major implications for the 3.5-million cohabiting South Africans that live together but are not married.

Join the discussion: 

“Even if you’re unmarried, you could soon be seen as a ‘spouse’ in the eyes of the law,” he says. 

Thomson explains how the term “cohabiting” is currently defined in law and the different ways in which the amendments could apply or be interpreted in future. 

“It could mean your partner has an automatic claim to inherit a substantial share of your estate should you pass away, even if you have not been together for very long. Are you sure this would be your last and final wish?”

Topics of discussion include:

  • the work of Sanlam Trust; explanations of the proposed amendments;
  • defining the use and meaning of the term “cohabiting”;
  • how the changes could affect estate planning;
  • implications for long-term relationships; and
  • advice for how people can navigate this evolving landscape. 

Engage on Twitter at #BDSpotlight

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 Business Day Spotlight is a MultimediaLIVE production.


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