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Frequently Asked Questions Estate Administration

What is an 'estate'?

The net value of a person’s estate is the sum of a person’s assets and claims, less liabilities and expenses, as at date of death.

What is an 'executor'?

The executor is the person or legal entity nominated in the Will of a person to take up the executorship of the estate. This person will then apply to the Master of the High Court for appointment as executor in terms of the Will and will then attend to the administration of the estate.

What is an 'estate officer'?

The estate officer is the person who attends to the day to day administration of the estate. However, please note this may be referred to by a different name at different organisations.

What are the duties of an executor?

An executor is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the Will are adhered to. The executor is also responsible for various regulatory obligations imposed on the executor by law. For example, placing the advertisements required by law, attending to the submission of the final income tax returns and post death tax returns, drafting and lodging the Liquidation and Distribution Account(s) with the Master of the High Court, and attending to the distribution of the estate as prescribed in the Will, or in terms of a Re-Distribution Agreement.

How do I report a death?

You would need to contact the person or organisation named as the executor in the Will of the deceased to advise them of the death of the testator or testatrix.

What is the 'Master of the High Court'?

The Master of the High Court is a statutory body and they act as regulator for various Acts: the most important of which is the Administration of Estates Act of 1965 (the Act), which specifically regulates the administration of deceased estates.

What is a 'Letter of Executorship'?

This document is issued by the Master of the High Court and this authorises the person(s) who is nominated as executor, to proceed with the administration of the estate.

How long does it take to onboard an estate?

This process usually takes between five and seven working days.

What documents do I need to provide the nominated executor?

  • The death certificate and identity document of the deceased.
  • The identity document and contact details of the beneficiaries in terms of the Will.
  • Details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities, including fixed properties, motor vehicles, share portfolios, unit trust and other investments, and the income tax reference number of the deceased.
However, this is not a finite list, as each estate is unique, and the executor will require other details depending on the circumstances of the particular estate. Click here for a list of typical documents required by the executor.

In terms of the Act, what are the Section 29 & 35 advertisements?

The Section 29 advertisement is a regulatory requirement which calls upon creditors to lodge their claims against the estate.  The Section 35 advertisement is also a regulatory requirement, which advertises the Liquidation and Distribution Account as lying open for inspection in the magisterial district where the deceased was ordinarily a resident prior to death.

How long does an estate take to administer?

This depends on the complexity of the estate and the co-operation that the executor receives from various government entities and entities where the deceased would have had an interest.