1The 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, in the absence of a valid will, in terms of the Intestate Succession Act,1989 (Act 81 of 1989). The procedure that must be followed to administer a deceased estate is prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act, 1965 (Act 66 of 1965), as amended.
2Where must estates 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.
3When and by whom must estates be reported?
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 estate is normally reported by the nominated Executor or his agent (i.e. Jan L Jordaan Inc Attorneys). The estate is reported by lodging a completed death notice and other supporting documents with the Master which may be obtained from any Office of the Master of the High Court or on www.justice.gov.za, or contact Jan L Jordaan Inc. Attorneys and we will gladly assist you
4How do you report an estate to the Master ?
The reporting documents will differ slightly depending on the value of the estate and the type of appointment required. If the value of the estate exceeds R250 000, letters of executorship must be issued and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act must be followed. However, if the value of the estate is less than R250 000, the Master of the High Court may dispense with letters of executorship and issue letters of authority in terms of Section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act, (Act 66 of 1965).
5What documents will be required to report the Estate to the Master.
The following reporting documents are required:

  • Completed death notice (form J294)
  • Original or certified copy of the death certificate
  • Original or certified copy of a marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • All original wills and codicils or documents intended as such (if any)
  • Next-of-kin affidavit if the deceased did not leave a valid will (form J192)
  • Completed inventory form (form J243)
  • Nominations by the heirs for the appointment of an executor in the case of an intestate estate, or where no executor has been nominated in the will, or the nominated executor has died or declines the appointment.
  • Completed acceptance of trust as executor forms in duplicate by the person(s) nominated as executor(s) (form J190) plus a certified copy of the photo page of the executor's ID document. An undertaking and bond of security, unless the nominated executor has been exempted from providing security in the will, or is the parent, spouse or child of the deceased (form J262)
  • Affidavit by the next-of-kin of a deceased person who has died without leaving a valid will, to the effect that the estate has not already been reported to another Master or service point (if applicable)
  • Declaration of subsisting marriages
6What happens if I do not leave a will (intestate succession)?
If you die without leaving a valid will, your 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). For more information on the Intestate Succession Act, please read below.
7In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased is survived by a spouse or spouses but not by (a) descendant/s?
The spouse or spouses will be the sole intestate heirs.
8In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased is survived by a descendant/s, but not by a spouse?
The descendant will inherit the intestate estate.
9In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased is survived by a spouse/s as well as (a) descendant/s?
The estate will be divided between the spouse and the descendants in equal shares provided that the spouse inherits a minimus of R250 000, known as a child's share.

Example of the child’s share in the event of a monogamous marriage: In this case the value of the intestate estate is R1 000 000 The deceased is survived by his spouse and two children. In this case, the spouse and both children will inherit R333 000 each.
10In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased leaves no spouse or descendants, but both parents are still alive?
His/her parents will inherit the intestate estate in equal shares.
11In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased leaves no spouse and no descendants but leaves one parent, while the deceased parent left descendants (brothers/sisters of the deceased)?
The surviving parent will inherit one half of the intestate estate and the descendants of the deceased parent the other half.
12In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased leaves no spouse or descendants but leaves one surviving parent, while the deceased parent did not leave any other descendants?
The surviving parent will inherit the whole estate.
13In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased does not leave a spouse or descendants or parents, but both his parents left descendants?
The intestate estate will be split into equal parts. One half of the estate is then divided among the descendants related to the deceased through the predeceased mother and the other half among the descendants related to the deceased through the predeceased father.
14In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased does not leave a spouse, descendant or parents, but only one of the predeceased parents left descendants?
The descendants of the predeceased parent, who left descendants, will inherit the entire intestate estate.
15In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased does not leave a spouse, descendants, parents or descendants of his parents?
The nearest blood relation inherits the entire intestate estate.
16In the event of intestate succession, what happens if the deceased is not survived by any relative?
Only in this instance will the proceeds of the estate devolve on the state.
17What is the position with regard to an illegitimate child of the deceased?
An illegitimate child can inherit from both blood relations, the same as a legitimate child.
18What is the position with regard to an adopted child of the deceased?
An adopted child will be deemed to be a descendant of his adoptive parent or parents; and not to be a descendant of his natural parent or parents, except in the case of a natural parent who is also the adoptive parent of that child or was, at the time of the adoption, married to the adoptive parent of the child.
1What is a will?
A will is a specialised document, which should preferably be drawn up by an expert like an attorney.
2Who is competent to make a will?
The person who draws up a will is called the testator/testatrix. All persons 16 years and older are competent to make a will in order to determine how their estate should devolve upon their death, unless they were mentally incapable of appreciating the consequence of their actions at the time of making the will.
3Who is competent to act as a witness to a will?
All persons of 14 years and over are competent to act as a witness to a will, provided that at the time they witnessed the will they were not incompetent to give evidence in a court of law.
4What are the requirements for a valid will?
Since 1 January 1954 all wills must be in writing. They can be written by hand, typed or printed. The signature of the testator/testatrix must appear at the end of the will. This signature must be made in the presence of two or more competent witnesses. The witnesses must attest and sign the will in the presence of the testator/testatrix and of each other. If the will consists of more than one page, each page other than the page on which it ends must be signed anywhere on the page by the testator/ testatrix. Although the testator/testatrix must sign all the pages of the will, only the last page of the will needs to be signed by the witnesses.
5What are the requirements for a valid will if the testator/testatrix cannot sign his/her name?
If the testator/testatrix cannot sign his/her name, he/she may ask someone to sign the will on his/her behalf or he/she can sign the will by making a mark (a thumbprint or a cross). When the will is signed by someone on behalf of the testator/testatrix or by making a mark, a Commissioner of Oaths must certify that he/she has satisfied him/herself as to the identity of the testator/testatrix and that the will so signed is the will of the testator/testatrix. The Commissioner of Oaths must sign his/her certificate and he/she must also sign every other page of the will, anywhere on the page. The Commissioner of Oaths must also be present when the will is signed and must append his/her certificate as soon as possible after the will is signed even if the testator/testatrix dies soon after signing the will.
6What is a codicil?
A codicil is a schedule or annexure to an existing will, which is made to supplement or amend an existing will. A codicil must comply with the same requirements for a valid will. A codicil need not be signed by the same witnesses who signed the original will.
7What if I want to amend my will?
Amendments to a will can only be made while executing a will or after the date of execution of the will. Amendments to a will must comply with the same requirements for a valid will and, if a testator/testatrix cannot sign it, with the same requirements that apply for persons who cannot sign a will. When amending a will, the same witnesses who signed the original will need not sign it again.
8Must I amend my will after a divorce?
A bequest to your divorced spouse in your will, which was made prior to your divorce, will not necessary fall away after divorce. The Wills Act stipulates that, except where you expressly provide otherwise, a bequest to your divorced spouse will be deemed revoked if you die within three months of the divorce. This provision is to allow a divorced person a period of three months to amend his/her will, after the trauma of a divorce. Should you, however, fail to amend your will within three months after your divorce, the deemed revocation rule will fall away, and your divorced spouse will benefit as indicated in the will.
9Who is disqualified from inheriting under a will?
The following people are disqualified from inheriting under a will: a person or his/her spouse who writes a will or any part thereof on behalf of the testator; and a person or his/her spouse who signs the will on instruction of the testator or as a witness. Consult Jan L Jordaan Inc for more information in this regard.
1What is the Guardian’s Fund?
The Guardian’s Fund falls under the administration of the Master of the High Court. It is a fund created to hold and administer funds that are paid to the Master on behalf of various persons, known or unknown (for example, minors, persons incapable of managing their own affairs, unborn heirs, missing or absent persons or persons having an interest in the moneys of a usufructuary, fiduciary or fidei-commissiary nature).
2What happens with the moneys when deposited in the Guardian’s Fund?
When the Master receives or accepts any money he/she must open an account in the books of the Guardian’s Fund in the name of the person to whom the money belongs or the estate of which that money forms part. If it is not known to whom such money belongs, the account may be opened in the name of the person from whom the money is derived, as the estate from which the money has been received, or the estate from which the money is derived, as the case may be. The money in the Guardian’s Fund is invested with the Public Investment Commission and audited annually.
3What is the position with the payment of interest?
Interest is payable on amounts paid into the Guardian’s Fund on behalf of any minor, persons incapable of managing their own affairs, unborn heirs and persons having an interest in the moneys of a usufructuary, fiduciary or fideicommissiary nature. The interest is calculated on a monthly basis at a rate per annum determined from time to time by the Minister of Finance. The interest is compounded monthly. Interest is paid for a period from a month after receipt up to five years after it has become claimable, unless it is legally claimed before such expiration.
4Can I claim any maintenance/allowance from the Guardian’s Fund, and if so, how?
An applicant can claim maintenance/allowance from the Guardian’s Fund. The Master may pay from interest, as well as up to R100 000 per year from the invested capital for maintenance, like school and university fees, clothes, medical fees, boarding and lodging and any other needs that can be fully motivated. Maintenance can be claimed by the guardian/tutor/curator/person looking after the person of the account holder by way of an application on form J341, supported by quotations and accounts. Payments can be made directly to the service provider, like schools, universities and bookshops.
5When can a beneficiary claim the invested money, and how?
A minor can claim the invested money, as well as the accrued interest on reaching the age of majority (on his/her eighteenth birthday, marriage or declaration of majority by the High Court). However, a Testator/Testatrix can stipulate another age when a beneficiary is entitled to the invested capital in their Will. Money can be claimed by the beneficiary when entitled by way of an application on form J251, supported by a certified copy of the account holder’s identity document/passport/marriage certificate/order of court and verification of fingerprints of applicant. In the case of usufructuaries/fideicommissaries, those entitled to the interest can claim the accrued interest on a monthly basis by way of a written application (J341) giving full particulars of the instrument, which created the usufructuary/ fideicommissary interest. The owner can claim the invested capital when entitled thereto (usually after the death of the usufructuary/fideicommissary) by way of an application on form J251, supported by a certified copy of the death certificate and beneficiaries identity document/passport, banking details and verification of fingerprints of applicant. In the case of untraced or undetermined beneficiaries, money can be claimed by the beneficiary when the account comes to his/her attention. The application must be made on form J251, supported by a certified copy of the account holder’s identity document/passport and verification of fingerprints of applicant.
6How do payments take place?
Money/interest/maintenance is paid by means of a crossed cheque to the payee personally, or by a cheque/EFT deposit in the payee’s banking account in designated offices.
7What happens with the money if not claimed in time?
After the lapse of a period of 30 years, after the money has become claimable, the money is forfeited to the state. Every year during September the Master advertises accounts that have been unclaimed in the Government Gazette.