Deceased estates: When a loved one leaves you property

Private Property South Africa

Dealing with the sale of a property after a loved one has passed away, will more than likely be a traumatic experience. Decisions and actions that would normally be handled with relative ease, can become incredibly hard and confusing. In order to sell the property of a deceased parent or family member to which you are the heir, there are legal steps that need to be followed before you will be able to proceed.

“Managing property transactions at the best of times is tricky; in the context of deceased estates it is especially difficult because of the many life events and the associated emotions, that are involved”, says Just Property CEO, Paul Stevens.

The first step when dealing with a deceased estate is to identify whether the deceased had a validly executed Will. This could be held by attorneys, financial planners and banks among others. The Will can then be used to identify the manner in which the estate will be distributed, as well as who has been appointed as the Executor.

Kaplan Blumberg Attorneys explain that, “The next-of-kin will need to meet with the Executor as soon as possible, as the Estate will need to be reported to the Master of the High Court to enable the Executor to obtain the necessary authority to act, either by way of Letters of Executorship (if the value of the estate exceeds R250,000.00 at the date of death), or Letters of Authority (if the value is less than R250,000.00). From a practical perspective this meeting usually takes place after the funeral.”

It is important to remember that all assets will be frozen from the date of death and that no items or assets may be disposed of with the authority of the appointed Executor.

If the beneficiary elects to sell any fixed property from the estate, Kaplan Blumberg Attorneys go on to say that, “The Executor does not need to wait until the administration of the estate has been finalised. The Master of the High Court will require specific documents to be lodged at his offices before he will endorse the Power of Attorney to Pass Transfer, for example the signed consent from the beneficiary in the prescribed format. The fixed property will be reflected as having been reduced to cash and the value reflected in the Liquidation and Distribution Account will be the purchase price.”

Stevens strongly believes that, “Estate agents need to act with utmost professionalism to help Executors and beneficiaries achieve a fair market price for properties. This can be achieved by running a comprehensive market analysis and pulling data from multiple industry sources to deliver an accurate and balanced picture.”

Stevens adds, “Real estate agents have a responsibility to act in the best interests of their clients but knowing who their clients are, is not always immediately clear. They need to ensure that the people they are engaging with have the authority to sign on behalf of a deceased estate.”


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