Court battle over Joost’s ‘unsigned’ will
THE late Joost van der Westhuizen’s brother and his former attorney will on December 6 battle it out in court with the Springbok rugby legend’s estranged wife Amor Vittone regarding his last will and testament.
The will has been a bone of contention since Joost’s death in February.
His brother, Pieter van der Westhuizen, and former attorney Ferdinand Hartzenberg, will ask the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to declare the will of September 2, 2015, as his valid testament.
In terms of this will, Pieter is appointed as the executor while Amor, apart from a television set, inherits nothing.
Most of Joost’s belongings were bequeathed to his two children – Jordan, 13 and Kylie, 11.
A codicil attached to the will specified exactly what had to go to whom, which included all the rugby paraphernalia he was given over the years as a rugby icon.
A legal glitch, however, caused the Master of the High Court not to accept the 2015 will as being legal. It was rejected as Joost did not sign it. It was signed by Hartzenberg, who acted as a Commissioner of Oaths. Joost was at that time too weak from motor neuron disease to sign it.
The Master, during a meeting in May this year, indicated that he was of the opinion that Joost’s last will did not fully comply with the required formalities as prescribed in the Wills Act. He said he had no choice but to reject it.
This left the will which Joost and Amor jointly drew up in August 2009 as his valid testament.
In terms of that will, Amor, to whom he was still married in community of property by the time of his death, would mostly inherit. But Hartzenberg,in an affidavit, made it clear that Joost’s wishes changed and by 2015 he was adamant that she did not inherit.
The couple got married in December 2002 in community of property, but they became estranged and had lived apart since August 2010.
Hartzenberg said when Joost left their communal home in Dainfern, Joburg North, he took with him only his personal rugby memorabilia, clothes and other personal items.
Despite divorce proceedings that were instituted, they never got to finalise it before Joost died.
Hartzenberg said Joost already asked him in 2013 to draw up a new will as he claimed that Amor insisted that the entire communal estate was left only to her.
“Joost instructed me to draft a last will and testament for him with reference to his half share of the joint estate.”
Hartzenberg said he met Joost on numerous occasions and eventually showed Joost the draft document in September 2015. The content was according to Joost’s wishes.
Hartzenberg said he signed the document, along with the codicil, as the Commissioner of Oaths. This was done in the presence of two witnesses. Joost was by then unable to sign the document himself owing to his condition.
It was required in law that someone else had to sign on his behalf and that Hartzenberg, as Commissioner of Oaths, was not allowed to sign on his behalf.
Hartzenberg at the time made it clear that he did this as Joost was unable to sign himself.
It only later emerged that this was not strictly in compliance with the law.
But Hartzenberg said Joost made his wishes very clear that day – that Amor was not to inherit his portion. He also emphasised that was Joost’s last wish.
He asked the court to make an exception and honour the former Bok captain’s wishes.
Amor had throughout denied that she wanted to benefit from Joost’s assets and said she only had the best interests of her children at heart.
JOOST VAN DER WESTHUIZEN