Answer to a question from a reader

I have been appointed the executor of my late father's estate by a magistrate's court. Where do I start submitting documents?

The short answer

If the estate is under R250k you can distribute your father's assets. If it is worth more the process is considerably more complicated.

The whole question

My father died in 2006 but we don't know if he he still had money in his bank or even whether his employer, Pick 'n Pay, paid out his pension (he was a member of SACCAWU union).

I've been appointed by a magistrate's court and family members to execute the estate. But I don't know where to start submitting all my late father's documents. Please advise where to start.

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking where you should start submitting your late father’s documents as you have been appointed the executor by the magistrate’s court.

As you probably know, with estates under R250,000, a family member like yourself can be authorised to handle your late father’s estate, with the magistrate’s letter. If the estate is over R250,000, an executor would have to be appointed by the Master of the High Court.

Besides the magistrate’s letter, you should have a certified copy of your own ID, and a certified death certificate for your father. You will need to show your father’s bank the death certificate (plus the magistrate’s letter) so that you can access his bank account. You would need to open a new account for your father’s estate where his monies can be transferred. You would also need to settle any outstanding debts from your father’s assets.

You should contact your father’s employer, Pick n Pay, and set up a meeting with the person in Human Resources that deals with personnel matters. You should show them the death certificate, the magistrate’s letter and any other documents you may have for him, like ID and dates of service, and explain that you need to access his pension fund and ascertain whether it was paid out to him or not. You should ask them for assistance in setting up a meeting with the pension fund administrators. You could also set up a meeting with SACCAWU to ask for their help in accessing your father’s benefits/pension fund.

If he died without a will, which it seems he did, the Intestate Succession Act will apply to show how his assets must be distributed. If he was married, his wife and children would inherit the assets equally, provided that his wife did not get less than R250,000. If he was not married, his children would inherit equally.

Wishing you all the best.

Answered on Sept. 18, 2019, 1:59 p.m.

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