It may be considered the least glamorous aspect of planning your forever after, but ensuring that the legal requirements of your matrimonial match-up are properly addressed are just as important if not more so!  Here are ten things to think about before your big day:

  1. There are two legal aspects which require your attention:
    1. A decision about which matrimonial property regime should apply to your marriage (i.e. in community of property or out of community of property)
    2. Ensuring that your will is updated
  2. Unless you conclude an Antenuptial Contract (“ANC”) prior to getting married, your marriage will automatically be in community of property. If your marriage is in community of property, both spouses equally own their assets and are equally responsible for one another’s debts.  This may result in far reaching and often unintended consequences down the line.
  3. An ANC can provide you with protection against being held liable for your spouse’s debts.
  4. Failure to conclude an ANC prior to your marriage will result in a very costly application to the High Court to change your marriage from one of in community of property to out of community of property.
  5. Consult with a qualified attorney, referred to as a notary public, who will be able to best explain the options available to you in terms of your ANC.
  6. An ANC assists you with preparation for life together as a couple; it is not preparation for divorce.
  7. Don’t believe what you see on TV – South African law is nothing like Hollywood! Seek advice from a professional law firm to help you choose the option best suited to you and your spouse.
  8. There are two types of ANC:
    1. Without application of the accrual system
    2. Without application of the accrual system

      Understand the difference between the two and match it with your needs.

  1. Update your wills before you get married. If you don’t, your new spouse will not automatically inherit your estate.
  2. Updating your will may require more in-depth estate planning, especially if you have a large estate or are involved in more complex economic activities. You may wish to consider the creation of a trust in your will to provide for any minor children you may have. A duly experienced attorney is best placed to ensure that your will conveys your wishes correctly.


By J Leslie Smith & Company