The Origin of a Deceased Estate
A deceased estate comes into existence when a person dies and leaves a document which is a will or is intended as a will. Such an estate must then be administered and distributed in terms of the deceased's will, or failing a valid will, in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987. The procedure which must be followed to administer a deceased estate is prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1965. (as amended)

Where must the Estate be Reported?

The estate must be reported to the Master of the High Court in whose area of jurisdiction the deceased was living at the time of his/her death. The Master has 14 offices countrywide namely: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Grahamstown, Bisho, Umtata, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Mmabatho/Mafikeng, Polokwane, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Thohoyandou.
When and by whom must Estates be Reported?
The estate of a deceased person must be reported to the Master within 14 days from the date of death. The estate is normally reported by the nominated Executor or his agent (i.e. Jan L Jordaan Inc.).

How to Report an Estate to the Master of the High Court

The reporting documents will differ slightly depending on the value of the estate and the type of appointment required.
  • The Magistrate's Offices service points will only have jurisdiction if the deceased did not leave a valid will and the gross value of the estate is less than R50 000. Letters of authority entitle the nominated representative to administer the estate without following the full procedure set out in the Administration of Estates Act.
  • However, if the value of the estate is less than R250 000, the Master may dispense with Letters of Executorship, and issue Letters of Authority in terms of section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act.
  • If the value of the estate exceeds R250 000, Letters of Executorship must be issued and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estate Act must be followed.
Administration of an Estate (Process)
The final stage in any transfer is the process of lodgement (handing in at the Deeds Office) and registration. A fairly standard procedure is followed:

Lodgement of Document

  • The reporting documents (as above) are delivered to the Master.
  • The Master appoints an Executor.
  • The Executor advertises in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette, inviting all creditors to prove their claims.
  • The Executor opens an estate bank account.
  • The Executor winds up the estate.
  • A Liquidation and Distribution (L&D) account is drawn up.
  • The Master of the High Court approves the L&D account.
  • The L&D Account has to lay open for inspection at the local Magistrate's office for 21 (twenty one) days.
  • The Executor has to advertise in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette that the L&D account will lay open for inspection at the Magistrate's court.
  • If there are no objections to the L&D account, the Executor pays out all the creditors and the heirs.
  • Final documents and affidavits are submitted to the Master to close the estate file.

How does the Process of winding-up & administering a deceased estate work?

1Obtain all the required documents
The nominated executor or family of the deceased are to attend to the following:

  • Obtain the original Death Certificate;
  • If the deceased has left a Will, obtain the original last Will and Testament

  • Obtain copies of all relevant deceased estate papers and documents (i.e. bank statements, account statements, title deeds, life assurance policies, etc.). Ensure that they are in order.
    2Report the deceased estate to the Master of the High Court
    Jan L Jordaan Inc. will arrange an initial consultation with the nominated executor and/or family of the deceased in order to obtain the relevant and required documents and relevant information that will be required to report the estate and apply for appointment of the Executor.

    The following documents (inter alia) are prepared to report the deceased estate to the Master of the High Court:

  • Death Notice
  • Acceptance of Trust as Executor
  • Next of Kin Affidavit (if applicable)
  • 3Obtain a Letter of Executorship
    After the above mentioned documents have been submitted, the Master will formally appoint the Executor and grant him or her the necessary powers to administer the estate, in terms of a Letter of Executorship.
    4Publish the Notice to Creditors
    As soon as the Letter of Executorship has been issued by the Master, a Notice to Creditors must be published in the Government Gazette and a local paper where the deceased was ordinarily resident at the time of his death.
    5Prepare Liquidation and Distribution Account
    Jan L Jordaan Inc will prepare the Liquidation and Distribution Account, which provides details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities
    6Inspection Period for Liquidation and Distribution Account
    Once the information in the draft Liquidation & Distribution Account has been confirmed by the Executor, Jan L Jordaan Inc. file the First and Final Liquidation & Distribution account to the Master for consent, and publish a Notice of Inspection in the Government Gazette and a local paper where the deceased was ordinarily resident at the time of his death.

    The First and Final Liquidation & Distribution Account lies for inspection, at the Magistrate Court, for a period of 21 days, and any possible objections are lodged with Master.
    7Payment of Master’s Fee and Submission of Estate Duty Return
    During the period of inspection, Jan L Jordaan Inc will attend to payment of the Master’s Fee and submit the Estate Duty Return to SARS.
    8Distribution to Heirs and Payments to Creditors
    Upon expiration of the 21-day inspection period, without any objections, and after the Master has accepted the Liquidation & Distribution account then Jan L Jordaan Inc will attend to distribution of the estate in terms of the First and Final Liquidation & Distribution Account, which includes:

  • Distribution of assets and transfer of immovable property.
  • Payment to heirs; and
  • Payment of creditors;
  • 9Obtain the Filing Slip
    After the completion of the distribution process, Jan L Jordaan Inc needs to provide the Master with proof that the assets have been distributed and all creditors have been paid. If the Master is satisfied, a filing slip will be issued, the estate will be deemed to be finalised and the duties of the Executor are discharged.
    • Original Death Certificate
    • Original Last Will and Testament (if applicable)
    • Original Identity document and passport
    • Original Marriage Certificate (or certificate of registration of customary marriage)(if applicable)
    • Original Antenuptial Contract (if applicable)

    Former spouse(s) details, if divorced:

    • full names and contact details
    • copy of divorce order
    • copy of divorce agreement
    • Predeceased spouse(s) details (if applicable)
    • full names
    • copy of death certificate (if applicable)
    • Master’s office where estate was reported (if applicable)
    • Full names of the deceased’s parents (if applicable)
    • Details of the deceased’s children (including deceased children), including their marital status. (if applicable)

    Fixed properties:

    • original title deeds or safe custody receipts
    • most recent home loan statements
    • current lease agreements
    • rates and/or levy statements
    • details of any credit life cover
    • capital gains tax valuations
    • proof of insurance

    Motor Vehicles, Bank Statements etc.

    • registration certificates
    • recent statement in respect of any finance
    • proof of insurance
    • Recent credit card account statements (including the card itself)
    • Recent bank statements and ATM cards for all accounts
    • Original policy documents in respect of any life assurance, endowments and/or annuities
    • Original firearm licenses and details of all ammunition held (if applicable)
    • Details of all funeral expenses
    • All medical accounts
    • Recent retail store account statements
    • Recent loan account statements
    • Credit agreements and recent statements
    • Telkom account