Grieving the loss of a loved one who has passed away is a heartbreaking emotional journey for anyone who has to deal with such loss. It's important to know that even during this difficult time there are certain matters which must be attended to, in order to ensure compliance with the applicable laws.
For starters, a deceased person's estate must be reported to Master's Office where the deceased normally lived, within 14 days. Obviously it's important to know if the deceased left a will and more so, to be able to locate it.
For that reason it makes good sense to tell family members if you have a will and ensure that the original will is stored in a safe place. In the absence of the original will, the Master of the High Court will not accept a copy or even a certified copy of a will.
If the value of the estate is less than R125 000 00, a Master's Representative is appointed to administer the estate. In this case there will be no need to have to lodge an account of the administration of the estate with the Master, (unless minors are involved). If the estate is valued at more than R125 000, the Master will appoint an Executor.
The Executor is usually named in the will as Executor. If the deceased died leaving no will then the Executor could be nominated by the heirs (who will be identified in terms of the Intestate Succession Act). All Executors are required to file security to the Master of the High Court, unless exempted by the will, or is the parent, spouse or child of the deceased.
The Executor is entitled to the following fee: 3,5 % on the gross value of assets in an estate, and 6% on income accrued and collected after death of the deceased. Once the Master of the High Court issues out Letters of Executorship, the Executor, assisted by an Attorney will arrange for the opening of an estate bank account in the name of the deceased.
The Executor is required to place an advert in both the local newspaper and Government Gazette, in which the Executor will ask creditors to lodge any claims they may have against the estate, within 30 days. Thereafter a Liquidation ad Distribution Account is drawn up in which all the assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the estate is declared.
Once again the Liquidation and Distribution Account must be advertised both in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette. This account is submitted to the Master for his examination. Once the Master approves the account, the account must lie open for inspection at the Magisterial Office where the deceased resided, for a period of 21 days.
If there are no objections from creditors or any interested party, the Master will then give permission to distribute the estate according to the account.
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