What to do after the passing, or death, of a loved one: A Guide on how to start winding up the estate and the process thereafter.
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be over-whelming for all the family and friends concerned. It is for this reason that we at Hammond Pole Attorneys would like to assist you in setting out the correct processes to follow, when winding up the estate, in order to avoid making this traumatic experience any worse.
First and foremost it is crucial to limit the financial exposure of the family in regards to the death of a loved one. That is why it’s so important that the family report the passing of the loved one to the Masters office as quickly as possible. But the process does not end there. It is far more complicated than that. But it doesn’t have to scare you.
To assist you through this trying time we have set out a step by step plan for the Family to follow when winding up the Deceased Estate:
Step 1: Obtain Death Certificate, Will of the deceased (If one exists) and all financial documents of the deceased.
The Family needs to obtain the death certificate of the loved one who has passed and establish whether there was a will left behind. Hammond Pole Attorneys can assist you in this process when nominated to wind up the estate.
It’s also important that the family attempt to locate as much information about the financial affairs of the loved one who has passed (statements of all accounts, etc.).
Step 2: Consultation with Deceased Estate Attorney
The family will consult with the Attorney nominated to wind up the estate in order to establish whether the loved one who has passed had a Will (Testate) or whether he/she passed away with no Will (Intestate). This is important as the manner in which the estate is passed on to the heirs depends on whether or not a valid Will was left behind.
The Attorney will also assist in establishing who the potential beneficiaries are in the estate and also attempt to establish what the assets and liabilities of the estate are.
Step 3: Appointment of the Executor
The Will of the person who has passed will make provision as to who the nominated executor/executrix is. Should there be no Will left behind, or should the Will not be clear in this regard, the family will nominate the Executor to administer the estate of the loved one who has passed.
If a family member was nominated as the executor/executrix they can, and should, if they do not fully understand the process, nominate an attorney to assist them in the winding up the estate. Hammond Pole Attorneys can assist in relieving this burden and can assists any nominated executor/executrix in carrying out their legal duties.
If no executor/executrix is appointed Hammond Pole Attorneys can similarly assist in the winding up of the estate.
Step 4: Appointment by the Master of the High Court
Once the death of the deceased has been reported and the nomination of the executor has been established, the Master of the High Court must formally appoint the executor and grant him the necessary powers to administer the estate. To do this he will issue ‘Letters of Executorship’ which letter shall clearly set out who the executor is.
Step 5: Advertisement for Creditors
The Executor would advertise the estate in the Government Gazette and the Local newspaper, wherein Creditors of the estate would be advised of the passing of your loved one and would be notified that they have 30 days from the date of advertisement to lay a claim against the estate. All creditors shall then lodge their relevant claims with the executor who would then assess them.
Step 6: The Liquidation and Distribution account
After ascertaining which creditors have valid claims and which creditors don’t, as well as confirming all of the assets within the estate, the Executor would prepare what is known as a “Liquidation and Distribution Account”.
This “Liquidation and Distribution Account” sets out all the assets of the deceased, as well their respective values, as at the date of the passing of your loved one.
Once completed the Executor must lodge an account of his administration with the Master within 6 months of his appointment or within such extended time as allowed by the Master.
Step 7: Advertisement of the Liquidation and Distribution account
Once the account has been lodged with the Master the executor must advertise the account and it will lay for inspection at the relevant Magistrates Court for 21 Days.
The Executor would also advertise in the Government Gazette and the local Newspaper.
This gives creditors an opportunity to view the account and lodge any objections with the Master, should they have any, before the account is approved.
Step 8: Distribution of the Estate
Once the account has been approved by the Master, the Executor will begin the Distribution of of assets, payments to creditors and the transfer of fixed property to beneficiaries.
+ – 35 to 60 weeks for Administration (Please note that these time frames should be regarded as a guide to assist you through the process)
Prepared by Michelle Orsmond – Attorney
Contact Michelle today!! We are situated on the East Rand of Johannesburg (JHB) in close proximity to the airport. The following towns are nearby: Boksburg, Benoni, Kempton Park, Germiston, Edenvale, Bedfordview, Springs, Brakpan, Kempton Park.