Journal of Civil Law Studies


South Africa, Succession laws, Intestate succession, Testate succession, Constitution, Surviving spouse, Parent, Freedom of testation


The South African Constitution of 1996 has had a significant im-pact on all the branches of South African law, including its succes-sion laws. The Constitution has transformatively reshaped im-portant aspects of South Africa's succession laws over the past two-and-a-half decades. This Article surveys the reshaping of two such aspects critically, namely (i) the extension of spousal inheritance under the Intestate Succession Act of 1987 and the Wills Act of 1953 as well as the extension of parental inheritance under the former statute; and (ii) the limitation of testamentary freedom. The afore-mentioned developments occurred by and large at the hands of the South African courts under the influence of constitutional and public policy imperatives regarding equality and non-discrimination. The Article shows that many of these developments are positive and wor-thy of emulation, but that a handful of the judgments in which these developments occurred, are open to criticism.

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