The Process Of Administration of a Deceased Estate

When a person dies the family of the deceased is responsible for reporting estate to the Master. If the executor is nominated in the Will the family will have to contact them to start the administration process.

The first consultation between the family and executor is used to discuss the content of the Will and to complete and sign the documents required to report the estate to the Master. The surviving family members will sign the death notice which will be submitted to the Master together with the death certificate, acceptance of executorship and a number of other documents, and most importantly the original Will.  The Executor will assist the family with the completion of the documents.

Once the estate has been reported, the Master will issue the Letters of Executorship appointing the executor. At this point, the executor will have the authority to administer the estate of the deceased. The executor is to give 30 days’ notice to the creditors and debtors of the estate to lodge any claims against the estate and open an estate bank account.

Once the executor has gathered all the balance certificates, valuations of assets and all liabilities regarding the estate, the liquidation and distribution account (“L&D”) will be drawn up reflecting the position at date of death of the estate, how the assets of the estate will be dealt with and to whom it will be awarded to. The executor may sell assets if necessary and collect all monies owed to the estate. The executor will also be able to pay the necessary costs from the cash available in the estate.

The executor is required to lodge the first draft of the Liquidation and Distribution account at the Master of the High Court within six months of the Letters of Executorship being granted. The Master will inspect the L&D and if there are no queries the executor must arrange that the account must ‘lie open’ for inspection by the public for a 21-day period at the local magistrate’s office.  Notice will be provided in the form of an advertisement. 

If there are no objections raised to the contents of L&D during the 21-day period, the executor will be allowed to distribute the estate assets to the benefices of the estate. The executor will then be entitled to take his/her fee for the work done in administering the estate.

Once all the assets and cash have been distributed to the heirs, the executor will certify to the Master that the estate was distributed in terms of the L&D and provide the Master with all the necessary supporting documents. At this stage, the estate has been wound up and the Master will issue a filing notice to release the executor from his/her duties.

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