Helfin Financial Services

Estate Planning & Administration

Deceased Estate Administration Services

Everything owned by a person who has passed on (deceased) is known as their estate. An estate consists of ‘buckets’ of assets and liabilities. The personal estate comprises assets and liabilities registered in the deceased’s name (both local and offshore), which can be disposed of, in terms of the will, at the date of death. Included in this segment are the implications of how the marital regime might affect the extent of the deceased’s ability to dispose of assets under the will.

An executor’s function incorporates many different legal, accounting, taxation, financial planning, process management, and even behavioural psychology business functions, and fundamentally requires the executor to act ethically, with integrity, and be dedicated to the job at hand: administering the deceased estate.

We work with experts in deceased estate administration and offer a bespoke service to all our clients. We ensure seamless and end-to-end administration.

Estate Planning Services

Estate planning is an important step to take during your lifetime so that you, your family, and other beneficiaries may enjoy, and continue to enjoy, the maximum from your estate and your assets during your lifetime and after your death.

Benefits of Estate Planning are as follows:

  • Financial flexibility;
  • Minimisation of all taxes;
  • Provision of liquidity;
  • Protection against insolvency and inflation;
  • Facilitation of estate administration;
  • Protection of assets in the case of marriages in community of property; and
  • Privacy

Deceased Estate and Trust Tax Compliance Services

It is crucial to bear in mind that SARS has first claim to what is rightfully owing to them. The executor, who will effectively step into the deceased’s shoes, is responsible for submitting tax returns to SARS, and to make sure that all tax returns are up-to-date – including any tax years that are outstanding (which can often lead to delays in winding up the estate). In such circumstances, the executor will have to request tax certificates and IRP5s from applicable institutions and submit them to SARS.

When someone dies, their estate will normally have to pay any tax due before any money is distributed to their heirs. The deceased could have paid too little or even too much income tax. As a result, the deceased’s estate might owe tax to the government, or it could be owed a tax refund.

Estate Administration ROAD MAP

It is crucial to note that each estate and circumstance of the testator/testatrix is unique, therefore for each matter the estate process might be more complex, however, the regulatory requirements remain the same, should the value be above R250 000.

Number 1



You may report an estate to us by emailing info@legateetrust.co.za with the following documentation;

Death certificate – please ensure the death certificate reflects the correct marital status. If the marital status is incorrect the family must contact the funeral home or home affairs directly and correct the death certificate, only then can the estate be reported to the Master of the High Court’s office.

Marriage certificate – a certified copy of the marriage certificate and antenuptial agreement, if applicable, is needed to report an estate of a married person. If divorced, a copy of the divorce order and agreement is required.

Next of kin – should there be no will, a fully completed next of kin affidavit is needed, as well as an unabridged birth certificate, should there be minor next of kin. All reporting forms must be fully completed; this ensures there are no delays.

Number 2



The executor must accept his/her appointment, and this acceptance accompanies the application to the Master of the High Court. On receipt of the letter of executorship, the executor is then authorised to begin the administrative process and secure the estate assets.

Our turnaround time calculation begins from the date that the letter of executorship is received by our offices. The turnaround time for this milestone is fully reliant on the relevant Master of the High Court, our process is to follow up weekly.

Number 3



On receipt of the Letters of Executorship, the executor must advertise in the Government Gazette and at least one local newspaper, a notice calling upon creditors and debtors to lodge their claims within a period of not less than 30 days. We will simultaneously write to all the known institutions. notifying them of the death and open an estate bank account.

Heirs and family must provide the executor with a list of creditors as well as a list of assets to ensure all institutions are duly notified. Despite this milestone being low in complexity, once again an executor is fully reliant on the third party institutions that they notify to provide feedback timeously.

Please note that estates valued above 3.5 million in net value are subject to estate duty taxes, for these estates the process is significantly more complex and the regulatory requirements by the South African Revenue Services must be strictly adhered to.

Number 4



The executor must determine the true value of all property in the estate, determine solvency, realise the assets in need, ensure that all applicable taxes are attended to and deal with any claims against the estate. This process can take some time, especially if there are unresolved items that require the attention of the executor.

The time frame of this milestone is reliant on institutions responding timeously to our requests for information (e.g. tax certificates, statements, proceeds). Most of these institutions have a rigorous vetting process that must be fully complied with prior to the release of information.

Number 5



The executor must prepare the Liquidation and Distribution Account. The executor is given a period of six months from the date of issue of the Letter of Executorship to lodge the account. This account must be lodged with the Master of the High Court for approval.

The executor must resolve any queries that the Master of the High Court may raise before the account may be advertised. The time frame of this milestone is reliant on timeously receiving the Master of the High Court’s approval of the account lodged.

Number 6



Once the Master of the High Court is satisfied with the
account and queries have been resolved, they will issue their approval of the liquidation and distribution account, and their permission to proceed with the advertising of the liquidation and distribution account.

The liquidation and distribution account must be advertised for 21 days in the Government Gazette and at least one local newspaper and will simultaneously lie for inspection at the relevant magistrate office

Winding up an estate is an administratively intensive process, fully reliant on third party institutions. Despite the daily challenges our commitment is to provide you with quality communication, service, and support. We will provide you with the highest levels of service in all that we do. This is our service commitment to you.

Number 7



Once the Liquidation and Distribution Account has passed the inspection period and has no objections, the executor is able to pay the creditors and transfer/distribute the assets among the beneficiaries.

If there is fixed property involved, the transferring attorney will lodge the conveyancing transfer documents with the Deeds Office for transfer of property. The conveyancing attorneys will forward the new title deed to the beneficiary as soon as it is available.

Transfer of assets is a lengthy process, heirs will need to comply with each institution’s FICA and transfer requirements. This milestone is dependent on the heirs complying with requirements timeously.

Number 8



In this final step, the executor closes the estate by providing the Master of the High Court with proof that the estate was administered in accordance with the Will, that all creditors have been paid and that all beneficiaries have received their inheritance.

The above is done by lodging proof of all estate bank statements, proof of transfer of any immovable property, and proof that all applicable taxes were attended to. If satisfied, the Master of the High Court will issue a filing slip and formally close the estate. The executor will retain all records pertaining to the estate for the prescribed period.

In view of these formalities, very few estates can be completed within 10 to 12 months and this process can take even longer where the deceased’s affairs are more complex. While our focus is to complete the process and provide closure to families timeously, our primary obligation is to ensure that that we administer each estate with the utmost care and due diligence.

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