C&A Friedlander Attorneys

The estate of every deceased person requires an Executor to be appointed to administer the respective estate. Appointment of Executors, as well as their duties, are overseen by the Master of the High Court, with the Executor being issued with Letters of Executorship, or Letters of Authority, by the Master of the High Court upon application.

Should you pass away leaving a valid Will, then your nominated Executor will be appointed, provided he/she accepts the appointment and is not incapacitated or disqualified from accepting the appointment.

A person can be nominated as an Executor in terms of the Will of a deceased, or by way of nomination by the heirs of the deceased. Nominating an Executor in a correctly executed Will is the easiest way to ensure that the person you wish to administer your estate is duly appointed. There can be more than one person appointed as Executor and you can make provision in your Will for a person to be substituted as Executor should your initial nominated Executor not be willing to accept the appointment or be incapacitated from appointment.

In the event that the person nominated in terms of your Will refuses to accept the appointment, or is unable to, or should you pass away without leaving a valid Will, then an Executor will need to be nominated by your heirs. Should your heirs be unable to reach an agreement on who should be nominated, or should there be disputes, then the Master of the High Court will appoint such person whom he deems fit and proper to act as Executor. The Master of the High Court can also call upon the nominated Executor to furnish a bond of security for the value of the estate should they not be exempted from doing so in terms of your Will or in terms of the Administration of Estates Act.

When nominating an Executor in your Will, it is important to ensure that the person or persons are capable of performing the duties of the Executor to enable proper administration of your estate. The following are some of the duties and responsibilities of an Executor to ensure correct administration of your estate in terms of your Will and the Administration of Estates Act, or should there be no Will, the Intestate Succession Act and Administration of Estates Act:

  1. The Executor(s) will need to ascertain and take control of all known assets, including properties and vehicles.
  2. Place necessary advertisements to notify debtors and creditors.
  3. Open and manage the estate late bank account.
  4. Accept claims lodged against the estate.
  5. Collect all monies due and owing to the estate.
  6. Sell immovable property, where applicable.
  7. Ensure tax compliance of the deceased.
  8. Draft a Liquidation and Distribution Account and advertise accordingly.
  9. Ensure assets are distributed in terms of your Will or intestate succession.

While performing his/her duties, the Executor(s) must act diligently and honestly to prevent any prejudice to the estate and the heirs. The Executor can be removed under a number of circumstances. If you are appointed as an Executor of an estate in your personal capacity, you will require the assistance of an attorney to administer the estate.

The estate administrative process is time-consuming and can be complex, depending on the size and assets of the estate. Should you need any assistance with the administration of an estate or should you wish to have a valid Will drawn up, please feel free to contact our estates department for assistance.

Written by Helen Jackson

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

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