Deceased Estates

Administration of deceased estates

Life has a beginning and an end and an Estate arises on a person’s death. An Estate is a person’s net worth at any point in time and thus the sum of a person’s assets less all liabilities.

Reporting the death and the estate

When a person with assets dies, his/her Estate must be reported to and be registered at the office of the Master of the High Court within 14 (fourteen) days of the date of death by lodging a Death Notice, substantially in the form prescribed.

The Master’s primary function is “to protect the interest of creditors, heirs, legatees or all other persons having any claim upon the estate”. In the exercise of this function the Master is given extensive powers of supervision by the Act. It is also his duty to protect the fiscus with regard to estate duty, where payable, and he is in a sense the upper guardian of minors. The administration of estates is under his exclusive jurisdiction. The purpose is to ensure an orderly winding up of the financial affairs of the deceased, and the protection of the financial interest of the heirs.

Which deaths must be reported?

1) The death of any person who dies within the Republic leaving therein any property or document being, or purporting to be, a will.

Must be reported by deceased’s surviving spouse, alternatively nearest relative or connection residing in the district where the death occurred or by the person in control of the premises at which the death occurred.

2) The death of any person who dies outside the Republic therein any property or document being, or purporting to be, a will, in the Republic.

Must be reported by any person within the Republic who has possession or control of such property or document