The Role of the Executor in Managing a Deceased Estate

The death of a partner is an emotionally traumatic experience. However, the process of winding up the deceased estate must be done as soon as possible. Indeed, the process kicks off almost immediately. Understanding how the deceased estate winding up process works can help you to avoid common pitfalls. To this end, we highly recommend that you speak to our attorneys, who are experienced in estate planning, wills, trusts, and deceased estate management.

What Is the Role of The Executor?

The executor is the person appointed to oversee the winding up of the deceased estate, managing thereof, and protecting the assets in the estate. The executor identifies the various beneficiaries of the deceased estate, ensures that the administrative process is legislative-compliant, and oversees the management and distribution of the assets in the deceased estate. The executor also pays the administrative costs, any debts owed by the deceased, and the final tax return.

Who Should You Appoint as Executor?

You can appoint a family member, bank, or a law firm as executor of the deceased estate. The executor’s fee is a maximum of 3,5% of the asset value in the deceased estate, plus 6% of the income generated from the assets in the estate from the date of death. It is possible to appoint a co-executor, in which case the executor’s fee must be divided.

The Master of the High Court supervises the winding up process. The Master of the High Court does so to protect the assets of the beneficiaries, but in reality, the Master’s Office is too busy to keep close tabs on the executor. It is thus essential to appoint a professional and trusted firm as executor, as to prevent a family-appointed executor from mismanaging the deceased estate.

Where to Get Help?

If you claim the funeral costs of the deceased, you are entitled to claim the expenses back from the estate. If you do not have the financial ability to do so upfront, you can request that the funeral parlour invoice the estate. The invoice should be submitted to the executor to arrange for payment from the deceased estate.

Once you have the death certificate, arrange for a preliminary meeting with the executor as named in the will, or if you have been appointed and need professional help, you can appoint a co-executor.  If you appoint a professional law firm, then you forfeit your executor fees in return for having the co-executor perform the administrative duties related to the deceased estate.

Get in touch with our team of attorneys to assist with the winding up of a deceased estate in South Africa.Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Call on our attorneys for legal advice, rather than relying on the information herein to make any decisions. The information is relevant to the date of publishing.