Choose your executor with care
You will need to appoint an executor in your will. This person must have the technical expertise to administer the estate. If no executor is nominated in your will, the Master will appoint someone at their discretion.
Estate administration is very complex and it is better to involve a professional person or institution to handle the matter on your behalf. The duty of the executor is vast and the more complex the estate, the more responsibility rests on the executor’s shoulders.
What are the services of an executor?
- All admin regarding the estate.
- The distribution of your estate, according to your wishes.
- Protection of your business interests.
- Value assets and family heirlooms. The distribution of assets must be in exact accordance with the terms of the will and the Estate Act, yet fair to all involved.
- Make sure that all the estate’s assets are securely held and properly insured.
- Payment of outstanding debts. Debts must be settled and special conditions observed.
- Minimisation of taxes, such as estate duty and income tax. Complete and lodge all outstanding income tax returns with the South African Revenue Services, and take care of any capital gains tax obligations.
- Confirm the extent of the estate and details to all interested and affected parties.
- Dispose of assets if required by the will or if there is a cash shortfall in the estate.
- Ensuring your dependants have income and access to capital. Telephone and municipal services may be discontinued if monthly payments are not made.
- Instalments on contractual debts must be honoured and all other ongoing duties attended to.
- All existing accounts in the deceased’s name are frozen by all bank institutions and the executor must open an estate account.
- Accounts must be drawn up in a specified format and ensure timely submission of the liquidation and distribution account to the Master of the High Court. The liquidation and distribution account is a detailed summary of all the assets and liabilities held at the time of death, setting out how the estate should be distributed among beneficiaries. This should also include a calculation of any estate duties payable. Any income that is collected after death is dealt with separately. Once the account is approved by the Master of the High Court, it will be available for public inspection so that any objections can be lodged and any aggrieved parties can come forward. Assuming there are no objections, the executor then proceeds with asset transfer and cash distribution to the beneficiaries.
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Which deceased estates need to be reported according to law?
- The death of a person who dies within South Africa and leaves property or any document that is a will or is intended as a will.
- The death of a person who dies outside of South Africa, but who leaves property and/or any document that is a will or is intended as a will in South Africa, must be reported to the Master of the High Court.
Who needs to report a deceased estate?
The estate of a deceased person must be reported to the Master of the High Court within 14 days of the date of death. The death is to be reported by any person having control or possession of any property or documents that are or intend to be a will of the deceased. If you die without leaving a valid will, the estate still needs to be reported, or else the estate will devolve in terms of the rules of intestate succession, as stipulated in the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act, 1987 (Act 81 of 1987).
August 1, 2016
Grant van Zyl
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