Winding up a deceased estate simplified
A fter 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.
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.
Author Wafiq Davids (B SocSci, LL.B.)
Attorney, Notary, Conveyancer and Legal Consultant at Siyatec Executors