What are the Responsibilities of the Executors of an Estate?
While the recently deceased man or woman will definitely be relieved of any further earthly worries, the same cannot always be said of those whom he or she may have left behind. Although drafting a last will and testament may appear to be a relatively simple task, and one that many choose to tackle on a DIY basis, complying with the various legal requirements associated with the estate process is a responsibility that can often present more than a few challenges for the executors of a deceased estate. Given a better understanding of this role, it is probable that, rather than seeking to save the cost of appointing a specialist, many more would then see the wisdom of entrusting it to someone with rather more knowledge of these requirements than a family member or a close friend who has little or no experience of the relevant law.
To understand the various benefits that are to be gained by retaining the services of a professional, it is first necessary to take a closer look at exactly what the role of executorship in South Africa entails. To state that the responsibility of the person appointed in this capacity is to carry out the various directives included in a final will and testament is something of an oversimplification. In practice, every step in this process undertaken by any of the appointed executors must itself be conducted in full compliance with the laws of South Africa relating to a deceased estate.
One of the most important factors to consider is whether the total value of a deceased’s estate is less than R250 000, in which case a very simple and streamlined administration process is applicable. In such circumstances, and providing that there are no creditors or maintenance claims to be settled, it can actually be more economical to dispense with the need to pay a professional and instead simply allocate executorship to a friend or relative who, incidentally, may also be one of the beneficiaries. However, if the estate value is greater than R250 000, a more complex administration process will be applicable, in which case an executor with the requisite legal knowledge should be appointed in order to comply with legislation and deal with creditors, maintenance claims and all other issues, and to ensure that the estate administration runs smoothly and effectively.
Other obligations on the incumbent include posting a notification of the death in local and national newspapers for the benefit of anyone who may feel that he or she has a valid claim upon the proceeds of the estate and to ensure that all the named beneficiaries are aware of its contents. In the event that this may trigger objections or appeals, such matters will need to be resolved legally and, as this is certain to entail even more time and expense, they are therefore best left to those who are more qualified to attend to them.
Secure Legacy is a company specialising in the preparation of wills, the design of trusts and in all aspects of managing deceased estates, including the functions of an executor. You will find our consultants, efficient, knowledgeable and, above all, dedicated to the best interests of yourself and your dependents.