Understanding the Legal Requirements for Deceased Estates

HOW TO WIND UP A DECEASED ESTATE IN SOUTH AFRICA

The process of winding up a deceased estate in South Africa can be complex and emotionally challenging. It involves the administration and distribution of the deceased person’s assets, such as their house, car, furniture, bank accounts, and policies. This process is governed by the Administration of Deceased Estates Act 66 of 1965 and requires the estate to be reported to the Master of the High Court in the area where the deceased person lived. If the deceased had assets within South Africa but passed away outside the country, the estate can be reported at any Master’s office within South Africa.

There are two different processes for winding up an estate, depending on its value. If the assets in the deceased estate are worth less than R250,000, the estate is administered under section 18(3), which is a simpler and quicker process with no advertising requirements. For estates worth more than R250,000, the process is longer and more complex, requiring advertisement in a local newspaper and Government Gazette, as well as the Liquidation and Distribution Account to be advertised.

A valid Will is crucial in ensuring that the deceased’s assets are distributed according to their wishes. If there is no valid Will, the estate is distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. The Master of the High Court plays a significant role in overseeing the administration of deceased estates, ensuring that the process is carried out according to the law.

Siyatec Executors can help you navigate the process of administering a deceased estate, providing professional assistance and guidance. Our services include Deceased Estate Administration and Letters of Executorship Assistance. Reach out to us via phone, Whatsapp, online consultation, or email to start the process.

After the death of a loved one, you might be left with a number of overwhelming emotions; shock, sadness or anger. You may even find yourself needing to do many tasks which your loved one did on a daily basis. For example, handling the family finances. The last thing on your mind is the administration of the deceased estate which can be a very daunting and stressful process. It is worthwhile getting professional assistance to make things easier. The following gives a broad overview of how to wind up a deceased estate in South Africa.

So what happens to the belongings of a deceased loved one? And what are the legal requirements to be followed when dealing with the deceased’s belongings.

When a person dies, all their belongings, for example, house, car, furniture, bank accounts, policies and so forth forms part of the assets in what is known as a deceased estate. The deceased estate must then be administered and distributed. The distribution takes place either in accordance with a valid Will or if the deceased died without leaving a valid Will, in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987. The administration of the deceased estate refers to the process of managing the estate. For example, paying the debts of the deceased and then distributing whatever balance is left over in the estate to the heirs of the deceased.

The Administration of Deceased Estates Act 66 of 1965 sets out the process. When someone dies in South Africa or outside the country but has assets within South Africa, the deceased estate must be reported to the Master of the High Court in the area that the person lived at the time the person died. For example, if the person lived in Cape Town, then you must report the deceased estate to the Masters Office in Cape Town. If however, the person died outside the country but they left property within the country, the deceased estate can be reported at any of the Masters office within the country.

There are two different processes in winding up the estate. If the assets in the deceased estate is less than R250 000.00 the estate is to be administered in terms of section 18(3). An estate to be administered in terms of section 18(3) is a simpler and quicker process because there are no requirements for the estate or the Liquidation and Distribution Account to be advertised. If the deceased estate is more than R250 000 the process to be followed is longer and more complex. The first difference is that the estate must be advertised in a local newspaper and Government Gazette. Secondly, the Liquidation and Distribution Account must also be advertised in a local newspaper and Government Gazette.

Siyatec Executors can assist you with the process of administering the estate. Give us a call, send us a Whatsapp, complete our online consultation or send us email to start the process.

Author Wafiq Davids (B SocSci, LL.B.)
Attorney, Notary, Conveyancer and Legal Consultant at Siyatec Executors.

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