High Court Decides Grandson is Rightful Heir to Grandfather’s Inheritance

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In a recent case that attracted much media attention, the Eastern Cape High Court decided in favour of a grandson, naming him the legitimate heir to his grandfather’s estate. The grandfather’s second wife, whom he had “married” while his divorce procedures were still pending, was given a blow by the decision.

In other words, the issue involved the estate of a deceased man who concluded a second marriage after the death of his first wife without completing the divorce proceedings with the first wife. At the death of the grandfather, the supposed second wife approached the Master of the High Court for a letter of authority declaring her the rightful owner of the estate of her late husband. The grandson became aware of this and approached the High Court to annul the marriage as the divorce of the first wife was not yet finalized and also to declare him the lawful  heir of the estate of his late grandfather.

Finding out who had the right to inherit the estate was the main question at hand. The grandson said that his grandfather’s marriage to the second wife was unlawful since it took place while the first wife’s divorce was still underway. The grandson argued that he should be recognized as the legitimate successor in accordance with the applicable inheritance laws since he is the man’s daughter’s biological descendant.

The second wife, on the other hand, argued that her marriage to the man was lawful despite the pending divorce process. She contended that because she was the surviving spouse and had a valid marriage to the man, she should inherit the estate. In support of this, she provided the Court with papers illustrating that the man indeed filed a divorce against the first wife.

The Eastern Cape High Court sided with the grandson, ruling him the legitimate heir to his grandfather’s estate. According to the Court, the man’s marriage to the second wife was illegal since it violated the terms of the ongoing divorce. The learned judge indicated that the husband misled the second wife .

The Court’s decision promotes the idea that the rights of biological descendants should be preserved in inheritance concerns and reiterates the need to follow correct legal procedures, particularly when it comes to marriage and divorce.

Dillan Snyman, Van Velden-Duffey Inc

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