By Sanette Viljoen
Facts: Sarah’s husband has died. His will stipulates that Sarah, the surviving spouse, inherits the house. Must Sarah pay the transfer costs to register the house in her name? May Sarah sell this house before the estate has been administered? Will the sale then be between the buyer and the estate and who pays the transfer costs?
These questions are general questions that arise among inheritors of assets. The answers to these questions are as follows:
Property may indeed be sold from the estate. It is therefore not necessary for the estate to be administered first and the property transferred to the surviving spouse. The property can be alienated directly from the estate with the permission of the surviving spouse.
Usually there will be an agreement with the buyer that he will pay the transfer costs. In this way the surviving spouse saves the transfer costs. If the surviving spouse first wants to register the property in her name she has to pay the transfer costs. If it is sold directly out of the estate, the buyer pays the transfer costs.
This applies to any asset in the estate, movable or fixed. With the permission of the heir, everything can be sold directly out of the estate before the estate has been administered.
Often the executor and the heir will be left no choice but to sell the assets because there is a cash shortage in the estate.
It would therefore be wise for a surviving spouse to sell the assets she does not want to inherit directly from the estate.