Answer to a question from a reader

How can I get my stepmother to include me as a beneficiary of my late father's estate?

The short answer

You might automatically qualify as a dependant if you meet the requirements of the pension fund, regardless of your stepmother's preference.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My father passed away while living with my stepmother and their two sons. They have all of his documents, like his ID book, and want to claim his money but they don't want to include me even though I am his daughter too. My father's estate has not even been reported to the Master of the High Court. What can I do about this?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking what you can do to be included as one of your late father’s three children together with your half-brothers, as regards claiming the money due to him from his work.

If your father was a member of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), a monthly pension would be paid to his children under 22 years old, until they turned 22. If you are older than 22, you would not qualify for a child’s pension.

He would have been asked to nominate his beneficiaries on the GEPF form at his work. The GEPF says that “…if you do not include all relevant beneficiaries, the GEPF has the right to overrule a Nomination form, or to include excluded beneficiaries if they meet the requirements of a dependant as determined by the rules.”

In other words, you might still be entitled to a share of his benefits, whether or not he had included you as a beneficiary along with his two sons if you qualify as a dependant.

You could contact the GEPF and find out if there is any way in which you could be included as a beneficiary if your father has not nominated you. You would need to bring your ID and birth certificate, and any details of your father that you have.

Here is the GEPF toll-free contact number: 0800 117 669

E-mail: [email protected]

Tel: (012) 326 2507

If he was a member of another pension fund, you could approach the personnel department at his work and ask if you, as his daughter, are entitled to any benefits. Again, always take your ID and any documents that help to establish that he was your father.

In terms of reporting your father’s death to the Master, this is supposed to be done within 14 days of the death. The documents you need to report include the death notice and death certificate, which your stepmother would have.

If he died without leaving a will, you as his daughter should be included in the process of the family nominating a representative to get a Letter of Authority from the Master of the High Court to wind up his estate. If he died without a will, you would be entitled to a child’s share of his estate along with your two half-brothers.

Perhaps you could ask for advice and assistance from a paralegal organisation like the Black Sash. You can contact them here:

Wishing you the best,

Answered on April 29, 2021, 1:03 p.m.

See more questions and answers

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.