Murder and fraud for inheritance: Smit v The Master of the High Court, Western Cape

Author: Mohamed Paleker

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Professor, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 140 Issue 3, p. 465-480


In South African law, a beneficiary may be disqualified from inheriting for killing the deceased, forging the deceased’s will, or acting in a morally reprehensible manner towards the deceased. In Smit v The Master of the High Court, Western Cape [2022] 4 All SA 146 (WCC), the court disqualified a wife from inheriting from her deceased husband because she had conspired to kill him. The court also disqualified her for forging his testamentary documents and his mother’s will. In addition, the court held that she was not entitled to claim maintenance and other benefits from his estate. This note critically evaluates the theoretical underpinnings of the court’s findings, with regard to the facts and the evidence in the case.