Deceased estates

Deceased estates
The administration of a deceased estate is explained

Plan your estate now to eliminate any problems upon your death. Protect your loved ones by minimising the chances of family strife and ugly battles.

Michael Visser
Michael Visser - Head of Legal - Helpline
9 October 2020 | 3 minute read
Deceased Estate planning

When a person dies, a death notice must be completed and the estate of a deceased must then be reported to the Master of the High Court by within 14 days from the date of death. The Master must preferably be notified by the nominated Executor or person in possession of the Will. 

Value of estates

  • If the value of the estate exceeds R 250 000 (current), letters of executorship (LOE) must be issued by the Master and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act must be followed.
  • If the value of the estate is less than R 250 000, the Master may instead of a LOE, issue letters of authority (LOA) in terms of section 18(3) of Administration of Estates Act meaning the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act will not have to be followed.
  • Members of the public may approach the Magistrates offices for assistance. The Court however will only be able to act as a service point in the following instances, namely:
  • The deceased died intestate;
  • The value of the estate is not more than R125 000; and
  • The estate is not insolvent (liabilities exceed the assets), and All the beneficiaries are majors or minors are assisted by a legal guardian and the cash assets in the estate are worth R20 000 or less.

Next of kin - Intestate succession

  • Dying intestate (without a will) will result in the deceased’s estate being distributed as follows:
  • If the deceased is survived by a spouse, but not by his/her own descendants (children), the spouse will inherit the entire intestate estate.
  • If the deceased is survived by descendants, but no spouse, then the descendants will inherit the intestate estate in equal shares.
  • If the deceased is survived by a spouse as well as a descendants, then the spouse will inherit R 250 000 or a child's share, whichever is the greater and the children will receive the balance of the estate. 

Note: In case of a marriage in community of property, half of the deceased estate (50%) automatically belongs to the surviving spouse but the other half will not devolve according to the rules of intestate succession. A child share is determined by dividing the intestate estate through the number of surviving children and deceased children, plus the number of surviving spouses.

If a deceased leaves no spouse or descendants, but both parents are alive without any other descendants, then the surviving parents will inherit the intestate estate in equal shares.

If the deceased leaves no spouse, no descendants but leaves one surviving parent and the deceased parent has descendants (brothers/sisters of the deceased), then the surviving parent will inherit one half of the intestate estate and the descendants of the deceased parent the other half in equal shares.

If the deceased does not leave a spouse, descendants, parents or descendants of his/her parents, then the nearest blood relative may inherit the entire intestate estate.

If the deceased does not leave a spouse, descendants, parents or descendants of his/her parents, and there is no blood relative, then the proceeds of the estate will accrue and transfer to the State.

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