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Requirements and Procedure
This division of the Master's office supervises the administration of deceased estates. The purpose is to ensure an orderly winding up of the financial affairs of the deceased, and the protection of the financial interests of the heirs.
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).
These apply to the following deaths: the death of a person who dies within the Republic leaving property or any document be ing, or purporting to be a will; and 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.
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; and 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 are worth more than R20 000.00.
The estate of a deceased person must be reported to the Master within 14 days from date of death. The death is to be reported by any person having control or possession of any property or document being or purporting to be a will, of the deceased. The estate is reported by lo dging a completed Death Notice with the Master. The Death Notice and other reporting documents may be obtained from any Office of the Master of the High Court or Magistrate's Office.
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 R125 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 R125 000, the Master may dispense with letters of executorship, and issue letters of authority in terms of section 18(3) of Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1965. From the 5th of December 2002 all Magistrates offices are service points for the Master. These service points will only have jurisdiction in the following instances, namely: the deceased did not leave a valid will (died intestate) and; the value of the estate (or the best estimate value thereof) is not more than R50 000; and t he estate is not insolvent (liabilities exceed the assets), and all the beneficiaries are majors or any one or more of the beneficiaries is a minor and is assisted by his or her legal guardian and the cash assets in the estate is worth R20 000 or less.
Letters of authority entitles the nominated representative to administer the estate without following the full procedure set out in the Administration of Estates Act.
Reporting documents where the value of the estate exceeds R125 000: completed Death Notice ; original or certified copy of the Death Certificate; original or certified copy of Marriage Certificate (if applicable); all original wills and codicils or documents purporting to be such (if any); completed Next - of - Kin Affidavit (if the deceased did not leave a valid will); a Declaration of Marriage by the Surviving Spouse indicating how the deceased was married; completed Inventory form, showing all the assets of the decease, 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 declines the appointment; completed Acceptance of Trust as Executor forms in duplicate by the person(s) nominated as executor(s); undertaking and bond of security (unless the nominated executor has been exempted from furnishing security in the will, or is the parent, spouse or child of the deceased); certified copy of the ID of the person to be appointed as Executor.
Reporting documents where the value of the estate is less than R125, a completed Death Notice form original or certified copy of the Death Certificate; original or certified copy of Marriage Certificate/s (if applicable); all original wills and codicils or documen ts purporting to be such (if any); completed Next - of - Kin Affidavit (if the decea sed did not leave a valid will); completed Inventory showing all the assets of the deceased; a declaration of marriage by the surviving spouse indicating how the deceased was married; list of creditors of deceased (if applicable); nominations by the heirs for the appointment of a Master's Representative in the case of an intestate estate or where no executor has been nominated in the will, or the nominated executor declines the appointment; declaration confirming that the estate has not already been reported to another Master's office or Service Point of the Master; acceptance of Master’s Directions completed and signed by the person as nominated above and certified copy of the ID of the person to be appointed as Master’s representative.
When property has to be valued in a deceased estate, it is normally done by an appraiser. Appraisers are appointed for specific areas by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of section 6 of the Administration of Estates Act no. 66 of 1965. Appraisers are entitled to a reasonable remuneration which is determined by a prescribed tariff of fees. When there is a dispute regarding the correctness of the remuneration charged, the appraisers account must be submitted to the Master for taxation.
Date: 7th April 2014
Legislation: Intestate Succession Act, 81 of 1987
Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1965