ADMINISTRATION OF DECEASED ESTATES – AN INTRODUCTION
After the death of a family member there are certain administrative duties bequeathed upon the surviving spouse, children, friends or any other relevant party who will be appointed as the executor in the estate. The Executor or Master’s representative is appointed after the fulfilment of certain formalities prescribed by the Master’s Office. After the burial or internment of the deceased the family or any other relevant party is required to report the death to the Department of Home Affairs and upon receipt of the death certificate to the office of the Master of the High Court in the province where the deceased was domiciled.
The Executor or Master’s representative undertakes the administration of the estate and ensures the winding-up of the affairs of the deceased. An executor deals with the closing of accounts, distribution of assets between the heirs and to resolve any issues delaying the winding-up of the estate. Other duties of the Executor include to pay the taxes and creditors who lodge claims against the estate, collect money which is owed to the deceased or estate and to report to the Master all the information required to finalize the estate administration.
Available on the website of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development are the documents which need to be completed and submitted to the master.
When reporting an estate the reporting party should know if the estate of the deceased is worth less or more than R250 000.00. The Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1065, distinguishes between a section 18(3) and section 13 and 14 estate. The value will determine whether the Executor is in need of a Letter of Authority or a Letter of Executorship. This letter can be obtained from the Master’s Office after complying with all of the requirements and submitting all the documents.
The executor should provide security for the estate in order to carry out his or her duties in accordance with the Administration of Estates Act. Under certain circumstances the Executor may be exempted from providing security. These circumstances are when the surviving spouse, child or parent of the deceased are nominated as the executor.
In most cases the deceased’s will nominates an executor and determines whether they should provide security for the estate when executing their duties. In the event of a deceased not leaving a valid will the estate will be dealt with in accordance with Law of intestate succession. The implication of not leaving a valid will entails that an executor should be appointed by applying to the Master to accept a nomination signed by the heirs. It is therefore always important to ensure that your wishes are formulated in a valid will.
Another important implication of dying intestate is that the heirs need to be determined by looking at the closest surviving relatives of the deceased. The surviving spouse will inherit the amount of R 250 000.00 or a child’s share, whichever is the greatest. The difference will be divided among the children of the deceased.
Before the heirs can receive their inheritance all of the estate expenses must be settled and the estate duty must be paid. The executor must submit to the Master the final Liquidation and Distribution account which set out all the financials of the deceased and accounts to the Master.
WVA INC. – Wietz Viljoen / Cornelius Botha
This article is for general information purposes and is aimed at advising the public. It should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.