Answer to a question from a reader

Who is allowed to have a letter of authority for my deceased aunt’s RDP house?

The short answer

The letter of authority goes to one of her three children.

The whole question

Does it matter how an RDP was registered? My aunt recently passed away and she had a title deed of an RDP house. My grandmother died before she could register for an RDP, so her first born daughter, my deceased aunt, registered for the RDP house.

My grandmother had three daughters. My mother is the only one left. My aunt has three kids but she didn't leave a will. Who is allowed to have a letter of authority in this case?

The long answer

When someone dies without a will, their estate (meaning their property like the RDP house and any other assets and debts) is administered under the Intestate Succession Act of 1987. 

Intestate succession is based on blood relationship in the following order:

  • The spouse/s of the deceased

  • The descendants of the deceased

  • The parents of the deceased (Only if the deceased died without surviving spouse or descendants)

  • The siblings of the deceased (Only if one or both parents are predeceased)

  • When the deceased left only spouses and no descendants, the wives will inherit the estate in equal shares.

  • When the deceased left spouses and descendants, the spouses and descendants will inherit the estate in equal shares, but

  • Each wife should inherit at least R 250 000

  • When the estate is not large enough to allow each wife to inherit

  • R250 000, the spouses will inherit the estate in equal shares while the descendants will not receive anything.

So in the case of your mother’s late sister, if she has no surviving husband, but she has three surviving children, the estate is divided equally between the children. 

If she had no surviving husband or children, your mother would inherit the estate. 

As they are the heirs, your aunt’s three children must agree to nominate someone (it can be one of them, or someone else that they trust) to represent them and receive the letter of authority. That letter of authority gives the nominated representative the right and duty to administer the estate.

Answered on Aug. 12, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.