To illustrate this point, I’ll give a brief summary of the steps that the executor needs to follow to properly wind up an estate, says Pieter Willem Moolman.
The first step in the process will be to report the estate to the Master of the High Court. In order for a unique estate number to be allocated to the specific estate, certain documents must be handed in with the reporting.
These include the original will, copies of the ID documents of the parties involved, a copy of the death certificate, an inventory of assets of the deceased, an acceptance of executor as well as a death notice.
Once the Master has issued a letter of executorship, the executor should place a notice (advertisement) in the Government Gazette as well as in a local newspaper advising creditors to prove their claims against the estate within a certain period of time.
In terms of Section 28 of the Estates Act, the executor must also open a bank account in the name of the deceased estate wherein all proceeds can be deposited.
After all the necessary information has been obtained regarding the assets and liabilities, valuations of assets must be made by a registered valuer as well as balance certificates obtained. This information is needed to transfer assets into the names of heirs as well as to draft the Liquidation and Distribution Account.
This account, which contains all transactions taking place during the administration of the estate, must be submitted to the Master of the High Court. The latter will scrutinise this account on submission and only when he/she is satisfied with the content, will it be deemed submitted.
The above account must lie at the Master’s office for 21 days and then be advertised again. Once this period has expired and no parties complained, the executor is able to facilitate the distribution and transferring of assets.
This being the process in a nutshell, the advisable and responsible thing to do would be to lighten your spouse’s burden by appointing an executor with knowledge of the above process.