Administration of Deceased Estates
When a person dies leaving a valid last will and testament, it is
known as Testate Succession. Where a person dies without a (valid) last
will and testament, it is known as Intestate Succession.
The Origin of a Deceased Estate
A deceased estate comes into existence when a person dies and leaves a document which is a will or is intended as a will. Such an estate must then be administered and distributed in terms of the deceased's will, or failing a valid will, in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987. The procedure which must be followed to administer a deceased estate is prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1965. (as amended)
Where must the Estate be Reported?
The estate must be reported to the Master of the High Court in whose area of jurisdiction the deceased was living at the time of his/her death. The Master has 14 offices countrywide namely: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Grahamstown, Bisho, Umtata, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Mmabatho/Mafikeng, Polokwane, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Thohoyandou.
When and by whom must Estates be Reported?
The estate of a deceased person must be reported to the Master within 14 days from the date of death. The estate is normally reported by the nominated Executor or his agent (i.e. Jan L Jordaan Inc.).
How to Report an Estate to the Master of the High Court
The reporting documents will differ slightly depending on the value of the estate and the type of appointment required.
- The Magistrate's Offices service points will only have jurisdiction if the deceased did not leave a valid will and the gross value of the estate is less than R50 000. Letters of authority entitle the nominated representative to administer the estate without following the full procedure set out in the Administration of Estates Act.
- However, if the value of the estate is less than R250 000, the Master may dispense with Letters of Executorship, and issue Letters of Authority in terms of section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act.
- If the value of the estate exceeds R250 000, Letters of Executorship must be issued and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estate Act must be followed.
Administration of an Estate (Process)
- The reporting documents (as above) are delivered to the Master.
- The Master appoints an Executor.
- The Executor advertises in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette, inviting all creditors to prove their claims.
- The Executor opens an estate bank account.
- The Executor winds up the estate.
- A Liquidation and Distribution (L&D) account is drawn up.
- The Master of the High Court approves the L&D account.
- The L&D Account has to lay open for inspection at the local Magistrate's office for 21 (twenty one) days.
- The Executor has to advertise in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette that the L&D account will lay open for inspection at the Magistrate's court.
- If there are no objections to the L&D account, the Executor pays out all the creditors and the heirs.
- Final documents and affidavits are submitted to the Master
to close the estate file.