Estate or Intestate – How Will You Die?

Your Estate and the law that applies to it, states that should you die and not leave a Will you will be deemed to have died Intestate

There are provisions in the law to guide the finalisation of the deceased’s estate in such a scenario to determine how your property will be distributed after death.

Steps to be followed for Intestate finalisation

The first step is to get in touch with the relevant local authority depending on the value of the property. The death must be reported to the Master of the High Court if the property is valued at R50,000 or higher.

EstateIf the value is lower it can be reported to the local Magistrate’s Office. A number of accompanying documents will be required when going to the High Court or Magistrate. They include:

  • The deceased’s bank statements up until the time of their death
  • A duly filled inventory form
  • A complete list of the deceased’s creditors if they had any or any other outstanding debts that may be owed by the deceased
  • An original/certified copy of a marriage certificate if available
  • Death certificate for a deceased spouse if available
  • A duly filled Next of Kin affidavit
  • Original/certified copy of the death certificate
  • A completed death notice
  • List of nominations for Executor by the deceased’s heirs
  • A signed declaration that the death has not been reported to a different local court.
  • An undertaking and bond of security in case the value of the estate is above R125,000

Criteria for distributing the deceased’s estate among heirs

After receiving these documents the Master will pick an Executor to oversee the distribution of the property. The Executor will be chosen from the list presented by the heirs.

There is a set criteria which the Master will use to divide the estate among those family members who survive the deceased. If the deceased has left behind a spouse and no children, they will be the sole beneficiary of the will.

In the same way, if the deceased left behind a child but no spouse, the child will inherit the entire property. However, if the deceased left behind more than one child, the estate will be divided equally among them.

Where there are children and a spouse, the spouse will get R125,000 or a share equal to that of a child if that is greater.

Should the deceased have left behind more than one spouse (a polygamous household), the estate will be divided equally among them. And in a case where there are no spouses or children left behind – the deceased’s parents will be bequeathed his or her assets.

Adopted and illegitimate children

The above methodology may not represent the wishes of the deceased person but it is a fair way in the eyes of the law of executing finalisation.

It should also be noted that the law caters for both adopted and illegitimate children in the same way as the legally recognised dependents of the deceased.

The Executor will be guided in winding up the deceased’s estate by the provisions of the Administration of Estates Acts (Act 66).

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