Written for Property Poser

A beneficiary of a deceased estate has approached the Property Poser panel with concerns about what seems to be an excessive amount being charged for the transfer of an undivided half-share of a property.

The reader has been quoted a “fee” of R50 000 for a property valued at R850 000.

In the event of death, the executor of the deceased’s estate needs to deal with all assets owned by the deceased, says Schalk van der Merwe from Rawson Properties in Somerset West, Cape Town.

“It doesn’t matter whether he was the sole owner or joint owner along with another individual who may still be alive at the time.”

Van der Merwe says the liquidation and distribution account needs to reflect all assets and liabilities at the time of death.

“It also forms a part of the executor’s duties to ensure that all assets are transferred to the new owners according to the provisions of the deceased’s will.”

For certain types of assets there are formal avenues to be followed to ensure such a transfer of ownership, says Van der Merwe.

“Fixed property would be a good example of this. A conveyancing attorney needs to process this transfer and it needs to be lodged with the relevant Deeds Office.”

Van der Merwe says the transfer of property carries various costs, such as transfer duty and attorneys’ fees.

“Transfer duty is a form of tax on the transfer of ownership of fixed property.”

It is calculated based on the value of the property and works on a sliding scale, says Van der Merwe.

“The transfer of fixed property in a deceased estate is exempt from transfer duty, regardless of who the beneficiary may be.”

According to Grant Hill of Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys in Somerset West, the attorneys’ fees are charged in terms of a tariff that is published and updated from time to time.

“These fees are also charged based on the value of the property in question.”

Hill says the current table of costs indicate that the fees in question should be in the region of R15 000, inclusive of VAT.

“So, on the strength of this, the quoted R50 000 fee does sound a little excessive.”

Because the cost structure relating to the transfer of fixed property is so highly regulated, there is very little room for professionals to charge at their own discretion, says Hill.

“Our reader doesn’t mention whether he received a pro forma invoice detailing what the amount of R50 000 was for, but he will certainly be entitled to more detailed information.”

Hill says all expenses in finalising the estate must also be set out in the liquidation and distribution account, which is drafted by the executor of the estate.

“Any liabilities that appear unreasonable will certainly be challenged by the Master of the High Court, who has to approve the account before the estate can be wound up.”

Hill says the reader is entitled to a second opinion and it may be a good option to seek advice from another reputable conveyancing attorney in his area.

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Issued by:

Full Stop Communications

Coetzee Gouws
082 575 7991
041 368 4992

On behalf of:

Rawson Properties Helderberg & Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys