Wills and estates are mostly unknown territory. Without a law or financial qualification you may perhaps wonder whether you are really fit to act as an executor.
It’s easy enough, say those in the know. You don’t perform the legal aspects, in any event. You simply appoint an attorney. You only monitor the situation and finalise a few tasks.
Your official duties
The undertaker issues a death certificate that you have to take to the police station together with the deceased’s ID and passport to have them stamped as “Deceased”.
Make 10 to 20 copies of the ID, passport and death certificate and have them certified by a commissioner of oaths.
Go to the bank to close the deceased’s bank account. Arrange with the bank to draw enough money from the account to see the dependants through until the estate has been finalised.
Take the will to more than one attorney (if you don’t have one of your own) and get a quotation for its disposal.
Have the attorney write a letter in which the Master of the Court officially appoint you as executor. Your letter of appointment is very important because it gives you the right to discharge the rest of your duties. This, together with the will, must be submitted to the Master within 14 days of the date of death.
Open an executor’s account with the bank. Only the executors have signing rights on the account.
Notify the deceased’s pension scheme and life insurers of the death so that all policies can be paid into the executor’s account. Provide them with copies of your executor’s letter and ID as well as the deceased’s stamped ID.
If large amounts of money are paid into the executor’s account, you must arrange for them to be invested in the most lucrative way possible, for instance in the money market or as a 32-day fixed deposit, where it will be accessible but also give the maximum interest.
Make arrangements with the traffic department regarding the deceased’s car(s). Take along your own executor’s letter, ID, the deceased’s ID and copies of each.
Arrange with the deceased’s service providers for his service contracts to be terminated, e.g. cell phones, TV licence, DSTV, short-term insurance, medical aid, municipal accounts, hire-purchase contracts, etc. Each of these are going to ask for a copy of the executor’s letter, your ID and the deceased’s ID.
Arrange for service contracts that have to be continued to be transferred to the surviving partner’s name.
Arrange for the sale of assets, such as cars and property, if necessary.
Compile a list of assets and give it to the attorney. It is not necessary to list every fork and teaspoon. The Master accepts an overall value, for instance R50 000 or R100 000, for the contents of the house, provided it is realistic. You will also have to have the property valued. Most of the time the Master will accept the municipal valuation, or a valuation by two estate agents. You do not have to incur the cost of a property valuer.
The attorney, on his part, will perform tasks, such as advertising for outstanding debt, drawing up a liquidation and distribution account and submitting these to the Master. You should be informed of every step and be asked to approve it.
Your last task is to divide the assets as stipulated in the will.
Although you, as the executor, may claim for big expenses incurred, it is accepted that your services are free of charge.
The following is a list of all the documents and information necessary for reporting a deceased estate:
the original will
a copy of the identity document of the deceased as well as of the executor
a copy of the proof of address of the executor that is not older than three months
Notification/Register of death: form 83/BI-1663 (Notification/register of death/stillbirth: Form 83/B1-1663 ─ this is the form that is completed, usually by the undertaker, to get the death certificate
copies of identity documents of children of the deceased
copies of the identity documents of all heirs
a marriage certificate (if married at the date of death)
a divorce order (if divorced at the date of death)
the deceased’s death certificate
a copy of the deceased’s liquidation and distribution account (i.e. the executor’s account, which has to be submitted to the Master by the executor or his agent), in which, inter alia, all assets and liabilities are set out
an antenuptial contract and details of foreign assets (included), all amounts received for non-pecuniary loss, donations, legacies and bequests (excluded) for accrual claims.
net value of the surviving partner’s estate (assets minus liabilities) as on the death date if he or she was married out of community of property under the accrual system
the deceased’s VAT number
the deceased’s last financial statement
the original deeds of transport in respect of fixed property or copies if the originals are not available
details of bondholder and latest statements
leases in respect of the fixed property
details of any usufruct with regard to the fixed properties
valuations of capital assets, such as property, as on 1 October 2001 for purposes of capital-gains tax
original car-registration documents and insurance details
financial statements of companies or closed corporations in which the deceased had an interest
share certificates and details of member’s interests in CCs
details of deceased’s directorships
financial statements of deceased’s business
details of timesharing as per latest statements
short-term insurance policies and brokers’ contact details
long-term insurance policies and brokers’ contact details
accounts and details of outstanding debt
medical fund details
income tax reference number
details of bank accounts and investments with latest statements
details of employer
IRP 5, salary details and details of outstanding leave pay
debtors (details of people who owed the deceased money)
name and contact details of auditor or accountant
details of trusteeship of the deceased, copy of trust deed and original letter of authority
details of loan accounts with trusts
information about dependant’s immediate financial needs