What happens when somebody who is not a relative passes away, and you are aware that the person has assets, but no family to take care of the estate? When does it become your responsibility to report the estate to the Master? What are your responsibilities regarding the assets of the deceased?
Section 7 of the Administration of Estates Act places a responsibility on the following persons to report the estate of a deceased person to the Master “Whenever any person dies within the Republic leaving any property or any document being or purporting to be a will therein -“
In terms of Section 7(3) the Master may also require any person who may, in his opinion, be able to do so, to furnish further information about the deceased and his/her affairs.
Until such time as the Master has appointed an Executor, Section 11(1) of the Act provides that “any person who at or immediately after the death of any person has the possession or custody of any property, book or document, which belonged to or was in the possession or custody of such deceased person at the time of his death:” shall:
Please note that section 11(1)(b) specifically allows for the disposal of any such property for the purpose of providing a suitable funeral for the deceased, or preservation of any such property. The bank where the deceased had an account could pay for a funeral, and, should assets need to be stored until the estate can be wound up, the bank could pay for such storage as well.
For further assistance in reporting an Estate to the Master, please contact our Estate and Trust Department.