Losing a loved one is a challenging time, and dealing with their assets and affairs can feel overwhelming. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process with clarity and understanding.
1. Creating a Will
It’s important for everyone to have a will. A legal professional, like an attorney or a trusted institution such as a bank or trust company, can help you create one. Your will designates someone as the executor to manage your affairs after you’re gone.
2. Reporting a Death
When someone passes away, you’ll need to work with an undertaker and a doctor to officially certify the death. The undertaker helps arrange the funeral and obtains necessary forms, including the original Death Certificate.
3. Reporting to the Court
Within two weeks of the passing, the deceased’s estate needs to be reported to the Master of the High Court in the area where they lived. This is a crucial step in the process.
4. Reviewing the Will
If there’s a will, take the time to review it. This document outlines the deceased’s wishes and guides the estate settlement process.
5. Contacting the Executor
Get in touch with the appointed executor, or if none was named, contact Sentinel International. Our Estate Team will guide you through the process.
6. Gathering Important Documents
Collect key documents like the original Death Certificate, Deceased Identity Document, Marriage Certificate, and any relevant financial records.
7. Submitting to the Court
The executor, will submit the necessary documents to the court to begin the formal process.
8. Valuing the Estate
The value of the assets, both movable (like cash and belongings) and immovable (like property), will be determined.
9. Notifying Potential Creditors
The executor will advertise in newspapers and government gazettes to inform potential creditors about the deceased’s passing and any claims they might have.
10. Handling Finances
Open a special estate bank account. The estate administrator will manage finances, paying any outstanding debts.
11. Preparing the Account
The estate administrator creates an account detailing assets and debts. This is called a Liquidation and Distribution account. If there is insufficient cash in the estate to cover the debt, this is called a cash shortfall, heirs might need to contribute in order to retain the assets in the estate or alternatively, assets will need to be sold.
12. Getting Approval
The court reviews the Liquidation and Distribution account and, if no issues arise, it’s advertised in newspapers and gazettes.
13. Property Transfer
A conveyancer handles the transfer of property.
14. Finalizing the Estate
After the advertised period, an interim cash statement is prepared, fees are paid, and the estate administrator gets the Deceased Estate Tax Compliance Certificate.
Losing a loved one is never easy. This guide is designed to simplify the process of handling their estate, ensuring that everything is handled in accordance with the law and the deceased’s wishes.
The estates team at Sentinel International is well equipped to attend to the administration process.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.