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Modern Deceased Estates

A deceased estate comes into existence when a person dies leaving property or a document which is a will or purports to be a will. Such 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).

Which deaths must be reported to the Master:

  • The death of a person who dies within the Republic leaving property or any document being, or purporting to be a will.
  • The death of a person who dies outside of the Republic, but who leaves property and/or any document being or purporting to be a will, in the Republic.

To which Master must the estate be reported:

  • One must distinguish between those instances where the deceased was resident within the Republic and those where he or she was not resident within the Republic.
  • Where the deceased was resident in the Republic, the estate must be reported to the Master in whose area of jurisdiction the deceased was resident at the time of his/her death. At present there are Master's Offices in Pretoria, Cape Town, Pietermaritzburg, Grahamstown, Bisho, Umtata, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Mmabatho/Mafikeng, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Thohoyandou.
  • Where the deceased was not resident in the Republic at the time of his/her death, the estate may be reported to any Master, provided it is reported to only one Master. An affidavit to the effect that the letters of executorship have not already been granted by any other Master in the Republic must accompany the reporting documents.
  • From the 5th of December 2002 all Magistrate offices are designated service points for the Master and estates can be reported there. However, these Magistrate offices have limited jurisdiction.

The following estates will be transferred to the Master's Office, namely:

  • Estates with wills.
  • Estates with a value of more than R50 000,00.
  • Insolvent estates.
  • Estates where one or more of the beneficiaries are minors and is not assisted by a legal guardian and the cash assets in the estate is worth more than R20 000,00.

If any of the requirements did not apply then she will probably not appear in the Government Gazettes – however it does sometimes take several years for an estate to be wound up thus the appearance of the estate in the government gazettes can be delayed for the same length of time.

What information will you find in the deceased estate paper?