Deceased estates

PUBLISHED 11 OCT 2017   

Q: I am nominated as executor in terms of a will and the person who made the will has died. What must I do?

A: Although the will nominates you as executor you will not be able to act on behalf of the estate until the death of the deceased has been reported to the Master of the High Court and Letters of Executorship have been granted. by the Master in your favour.

Executorship is a formal document which states that the executor named therein has been formally appointed by the Master and from the date on which it is issued the executor is legally empowered to act. It is possible to go to the Master's Office yourself to report the estate but the Master will require that you nominate a professional estate administrator to attend to the administration of the estate on your behalf.

It is good advice therefore to choose an estate administrator such as a firm of attorneys who will report the estate to the Master and attend to all legal requirements. Once all the necessary documentation and information has been approved to the Master’s satisfaction he will issue the Letters of Executorship confirming your appointment as the executor of the estate.

Q: The Master has issued Letters of Executorship in my favour. What happens now and how long does it take until the administration of the estate is finalised?

A: South African law, in the form of the Administration of Estates Act, prescribes a formal process which must be followed in so far as the administration of a deceased estate is concerned, the main purpose of which is to protect the rights of heirs and of creditors, including the South African Revenue Service. Among other things an executor has to place statutory advertisements in the newspaper and to lodge an account with the Master in a certain format containing specific information. Your professional estate administrator will attend to this on your behalf and in an average uncomplicated estate the process should be completed in 6 - 8 months. For various reasons some estates are more complex and take longer.

Above information has been supplied by Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes

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