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Revoking a Will: What You Need to Know


Like amendments to a Will, revocation of a Will may take place any time before the death of the testator. They are only two exceptions to this:

  1. Where the testator is the surviving member of the joint Will, the survivor cannot revoke the joint Will;
  2. Where antenuptial contract between the testator and his or her spouse contains a testamentary provision, the testator cannot unilaterally revoke the provisions of the antenuptial contract.

They are two essential elements to revoking a Will:

  • The testator must have the intention to revoke the Will (you cannot mistakenly revoke a Will);
  • The intention to revoke must be shown by a legally recognized act of revocation.

Acts of Revocation

In South Africa, a Will may be revoked in one or more of the following ways:

  • Destruction of the whole will (e.g. burning the Will, defacing the Will etc): No formalities are required for this type of revocation.
  • Express revocation: This is done by executing a codicil or revocation document and therefore prescribed formalities of executing a Will must be adhered to.
  • Implied revocation: This is done by way of executing a new Will that conflicts with a prior Will to the extent that the old and new Will cannot be read together, or the new Will expressly states that all prior Wills are revoked.


Key Takeaway: Where the testator wishes to revoke a Will, the testator must show intention to revoke. Express revocation is therefore advisable.