DECEASED ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

A deceased estate comes into existence when a person passes away, and deceased estate administration is the process of winding up the affairs of such deceased person.

Unfortunately, in the event of death, life continues and the world does not afford us the pleasure to complete a timeous grieving and mourning process. Although we may not want to deal with mundane administrative matters at such times, our law requires that a deceased estate be reported to the Master of the High Court within six weeks of date of death.

If the deceased person left a will, the estate’s assets must be disposed of in terms of such will. If no will has been left, the assets must be disposed of in terms of the provisions of Intestate Succession Act.

We accept appointments as Executors, and also as agents to relatives or others that may be nominated as Executors by the deceased.

Our services when attending to the administration of a deceased estate are broadly summarised in the following steps:

  1. Reporting the estate and appointment of the Executor
  2. Publication of Notices to Creditors
  3. Collecting information to prepare the Liquidation and Distribution Account (the ‚ÄúL&D Account‚ÄĚ).
  4. Preparing and filing the L&D Account;
  5. Liquidating and distributing the estate in terms of the L&D Account; and
  6. Finalisation of the deceased estate.

Executor’s remuneration is determined by tariff in accordance with the Administration of Estates Act, and it is currently calculated at an amount equal to 3,5% of the gross value of the assets at the date of death, together with a amount equal to 6% of the revenue or income collected after date of death to date of distribution.

How Does the Process Work?

Step 1 

Obtain the required documents

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On the date of death of the deceased, the nominated executor or the family of the deceased are to attend to the following:

  • Obtain the original Death Certificate;
  • If the deceased left a Will, obtain the original last Will and Testament
  • Obtain copies of all relevant papers and documents pertaining to the deceased‚Äôs estate, and ensure that they are in order (i.e. bank statements, account statements, title deeds, life assurance policies, etc).

Step 2

Report the estate to the Master of the High Court

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We will arrange an initial consultation with the nominated executor and/or family of the deceased in order to obtain the required documents and relevant information that will be required to report the estate and apply for appointment of the Executor.

The following documents are prepared to report the deceased estate to the Master of the High Court:

  • Section 9 Inventory
  • Death Notice
  • Acceptance of Trust as Executor
  • Nomination to Act as Executor (if applicable)
  • Next of Kin Affidavit (if applicable)

Step 3

Obtain Letter of Executorship

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Following submission of the above documents, the Master will formally appoint the Executor and grant him/her the necessary powers to administer the estate, in terms of a Letter of Executorship.

Step 4

Publish Notice to Creditors

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Once the Letter of Executorship is issued by the Master, a Notice to Creditors must be published in the Government Gazette and a local paper where the deceased was ordinarily resident at the time of his death.

Step 5

Prepare Liquidation and Distribution Account

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Upon expiration of the 30-day notice period to the deceased’s creditors, we prepare the Liquidation & Distribution Account, which provides details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities.

Step 6

Inspection Period for Liquidation and Distribution Account

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Once the information in the draft Liquidation & Distribution Account (‚ÄúL&D Account‚ÄĚ) is confirmed by the Executor, we file the First and Final L&D Account to the Master for inspection, and publish a Notice of Inspection in the Government Gazette and a local paper where the deceased was ordinarily resident at the time of his death.

The First and Final L&D Account lies for inspection for a period of 21 days, and any possible objections are lodged with Master.

Step 7

Payment of Master’s Fee and Submission of Estate Duty Return

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During the period of inspection, we attend to payment of the Master’s Fee and submit the Estate Duty Return to SARS.

Step 8

Distribution to Heirs and Payments to Creditors

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Upon expiration of the 21-day inspection period, without any objections, we attend to distribution of the estate in terms of the First and Final L&D Account, which shall include:

  • Payment of creditors;
  • Payment to heirs; and
  • Distribution of assets and transfer of immovable property.

Step 9

Obtain Filing Slip

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Once the distribution process is completed, we need to provide the Master with proof that the creditors have been paid and that the assets have been distributed.

If the Master is satisfied, a filing slip will be issued, the estate will be deemed to be finalised and the duties of the Executor are discharged.

Documents Required

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  • Original Last Will and Testament, if applicable
  • Original Death Certificate
  • Original Identity document and passport
  • Original Marriage Certificate (or certificate of registration of customary marriage), if applicable
  • Original Antenuptial Contract, if applicable
  • Former spouse(s) details, if divorced:
    • full names and contact details
    • copy of divorce order
    • copy of divorce agreement
  • Predeceased spouse(s) details, if applicable
    • full names
    • copy of death certificate
    • Master‚Äôs office where estate was reported
  • Full names of the deceased‚Äôs parents
  • Details of the deceased‚Äôs children (including deceased children), including their marital status.
  • Fixed properties:¬†
    • original title deeds or safe custody receipts
    • most recent home loan statements
    • current lease agreements
    • rates and/or levy statements
    • details of any credit life cover
    • capital gains tax valuations
    • proof of insurance
  • Motor vehicles:
    • registration certificates
    • recent statement in respect of any finance
    • proof of insurance
  • Recent bank statements and ATM cards for all accounts
  • Recent credit card account statements (including the card itself)
  • Original policy documents in respect of any life assurance, endowments and/or annuities
  • Original firearm licences and details of all ammunition held, if applicable
  • Details of all funeral expenses
  • All medical accounts
  • Credit agreements and recent statements
  • Recent retail store account statements
  • Recent loan account statements
  • Cellular account statements
  • Telkom account
  • Electricity account and water Account
  • Income tax reference number