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Reporting the estate of the deceased

A deceased estate comes into existence when a person dies and leaves property and/or a document that is a will or is intended as a will. The estate must then be administered and distributed, either in accordance with the deceased’s will or, if the deceased did not leave a will, in accordance with the provisions of the law. The Administration of Estates Act, 1965, prescribes the procedure to be followed for administering a deceased estate.

The estate of a deceased person must be reported to the Master of the High Court within 14 days of the date of death. The death can be reported by any person who has control or possession of any property belonging to the estate of the deceased, or who has control or possession of a document by the deceased that is or purports to be a will.

When must a death be reported to the Master?

  • If the deceased died in South Africa and left property and/or any document that is a will or is intended as a will
  • If the deceased died outside South Africa, but left in South Africa property and/or any document that is a will or is intended as a will

Where must a deceased estate be reported?
Although all magistrates’ offices are service points for the Master where estates of the deceased can be reported, they have limited jurisdiction and shall transfer all estates with wills, as well as estates that exceed R50 000 in value, to the provincial office of the Master. If you wish to report such an estate, it is therefore best to do so to directly at the Master’s office.

Steps to follow

If the value of the estate is less than R50 000, report the estate to the magistrate’s office. If the value exceeds R50 000, report it directly to the Master’s office.

    • If the deceased was living in South Africa at the time of his or her death, report the estate to the Master who has jurisdiction of the area where the deceased was living at the time of his or her death.
    • If the deceased was not living in South Africa at the time of his or her death, you can report the estate to any (but not more than one) Master.
    • Report the estate by completing Form J294: Death notice and the other relevant reporting documents listed below.
    • You can obtain the Death notice and other reporting documents from any office of the Master of the high court or from any magistrate's office or from the website, under the heading “Forms”
    • The value of the estate and the type of appointment required will determine which documents you have to complete and submit.

If the value of the estate is under R125 000, complete the following documents:

    • Form J294: Death notice
    • Form J192: Affidavit: particulars of next of kin next of kin – to be completed if the deceased did not leave a valid will
    • Form J243: Inventory form
    • Nomination to act as executor(Nomination form) – to be completed by the heirs to appointment a Master’s representative
      • if it is an intestate estate; or
      • if the will does not nominate a specific executor; or
      • if the nominated executor has died or has declined the appointment
    • Form J155: Undertaking and acceptance of Master’s directions
    • Affidavit confirming that the estate has not been reported at any other Master / Magistrate
    • Declaration of subsisting marriages
    • Append the following documents to the completed forms listed above:
      • The original death certificate or a certified copy thereof
      • An original marriage certificate or a certified copy thereof – if applicable
      • All original wills and codicils (that is, an additional part of a will that either modifies the original will or revokes part of it) or documents intended as such – if any
      • A list of creditors of deceased – if applicable
      • Certified copy of the ID of the person applying to be appointed

If the value of the estate is under R125 000, the Master may dispense with letters of executorship, and instead issue letters of authority in terms of Section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act, 1965.

If the value of the estate exceeds R125 000, complete the following documents:

    • Form J294: Death notice
    • Form J192: Affidavit: particulars of next of kin – to be completed if the deceased did not leave a valid will. This affidavit, by the next of kin of a deceased black person who did not leave a valid will, must state that the estate has not been reported to another Master or another service point (if applicable).
    • Form J243: Inventory form
    • Nomination to act as executor/Nomination form –to be completed by all heirs to appoint a Master’s representative
      • if it is an intestate estate; or
      • if the will does not nominate a specific executor; or
      • if the nominated executor has died or has declined the appointment
    • Form J190: Acceptance of trust as executor – to be completed in duplicate by the person(s) nominated as executor(s)
    • Form J262: Undertaking and bond of security – to be completed unless the nominated executor
      • has been exempted from providing security in the will, or
      • is the parent, spouse or child of the deceased
      • Declaration of subsisting marriages
    • Submit the completed forms listed above together with the following documents:
    • The original death certificate or a certified copy thereof
    • An original marriage certificate or a certified copy thereof – if applicable)
    • All original wills and codicils (that is, an additional part of a will that either modifies the original will or revokes part of it) or documents intended as such – if any
      • certified copy of the person applying to be appointed
    • If the person applying to be appointed as executor is a lay person, he/she should be assisted by an Attorney, Trust Company or Accounting Firm – proof of which should be lodged

If the value of the estate exceeds R125 000, letters of executorship must be issued, and the full process prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act 66 of 1965, must be followed.

The service points (magistrates’ offices) only have jurisdiction if the deceased did not leave a valid will and the gross value of the deceased estate is under R50 000. A letter of authority entitles the nominated representative to administer the estate without following the full procedure prescribed in the Administration of Estates Act, 1965.

Legal framework

Administration of Estates Act, 1965 (Act 66 of 1965) and regulations, Intestate Succession Act, 1987 (Act 81 of 1987), Law of Succession Amendment Act, 1992 (Act 43 of 1992) and its relevant Regulations and the Reform of Customary Law of Succession and Regulation of Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act 11 of 2009), which came into operation on 20 September 2010 are available on this page: http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/acts/acts_full.html

Service standard

The time frame for this service depends on the complexity of the case.

Cost

Contact the office of the Master for details on costs. Contact details for the Master of the High Court Offices can be found on this page: http://www.justice.gov.za/master/contacts.htm

Forms to complete

All forms are available on this page: http://www.justice.gov.za/master/forms.html

Contact details

Contact your nearest Master’s office (http://www.justice.gov.za/master/contacts.htm) or your nearest Magistrate Court: http://www.justice.gov.za/contact/lowercourts_full.html

Master of the High Court, National Office: Customer Care
Tel: 012 - 406 4805
Fax: 086 544 4893
Email: Chiefmaster@justice.gov.za
Postal Address: Private Bag X81, Pretoria , 0001
Physical Address: 22nd Floor,SALU Building, 316 Thabo Sehume Street, Pretoria

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Updated: 2012/08/14