Newsletter 56 (May 2021)
We are officially entering our cold winter months, signaling an opportune time to up our citrus fruit intake to boost our vitamin C levels. Isn’t it something to be thankful for if you are still working from home in the winter season? It is a blessing to be able to start early without having to endure rush-hour traffic to get to the office. If you are having previously ‘normal’ days, leaving home very early to miss peak traffic, keep warm and stay safe.
In June we will celebrate our youth and their contribution to the development of our country. Our young people are the future leaders of our country and need to be treasured, be provided for and empowered with good education. They need to see exemplary leadership role models in the older generations for them to become exceptional leaders who have the interests and well-being of all South Africans at heart. While celebrating our youth, keep in mind that provision for a testamentary trust should be made for minor children in a Will.
On 08 June we will also be celebrating our shared ocean and our personal connection with the sea on World Oceans Day. The ocean plays a crucial role in our lives and we must be aware of the important ways in which people can help to protect it. We at EFBOE believe that all nature is sacred and should be looked after responsibly. Do not believe that a few caring people cannot change the world!
FIVE REASONS WHY A WILL COULD BE CONTESTED
Read more about this in our next edition
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WIND UP AN ESTATE
The question around the time it will take to wind up an estate is on the lips of numerous people, especially almost every beneficiary of an estate. This is quite understandable because everyone would like to wind up an estate to carry on with a life that has changed forever after losing a loved one. Apart from specific timelines regulated by the law, this is one of those questions that do not have a right or wrong answer.
Be assured that, even under the current, sometimes difficult, circumstances, EFBOE personnel will always do their utmost to provide the best service possible and will make it a priority to wind up all estates as soon as possible. We share the same wish as our clients and the next of kin of the deceased, to administer all estates as speedily as possible.
Roughly, a deceased estate could take anything from five months (which is practically impossible) up to a couple of years to be wound up. The average time is between nine months to a year for uncomplicated estates. Each estate is unique in its composition and it mainly depends on the size and structure of the deceased’s assets and liabilities. The complexity of an estate will determine the timeframe for this service.
When it comes to smaller estates of R250 000 or less, covered under Section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act (Act 66 of 1965), it is a fairly simple process because a Letters of Executorship is not required. Normally, a family member is authorised by the Master of the High Court to collect debts, pay the creditors of the deceased and distribute the remaining assets of the deceased, if any, to the heirs. The concept of a fairly simple process is perhaps used lightly, because even smaller estates can have their own share of complications. Remember that EFBOE can also assist in administering estates that fall under Section 18(3).
In estates where the value exceeds R250 000, an executor must be appointed to administer the matters of the estate which, in our case, would be the Efficient Board of Executors (Pty) Ltd (EFBOE). The following steps will then follow:
EFBOE must obtain Letters of Executorship which must be issued to EFBOE by the Master of the High Court. Only then can the following actions that form part of the administration process, take place:
Closing of the deceased’s bank accounts;
Advertising for debtors and creditors;
Drafting a liquidation and distribution account (L&D account); and
Distributing the assets of the deceased in accordance with the provisions of the Will and as set out in the L&D account.
The executor must deal with different service providers while administering the estate. The levels of service delivery will influence the time it takes to wind up an estate. Service providers include governmental departments (e.g. the Master of the High Court and the South African Revenue Services (SARS)), financial institutions, the deceased’s employer, etc.
The Administration of Estates Act prescribes certain processes which carry compulsory time periods, mainly:
The advertisement period for debtors and creditors, which must appear on the same day in the Government Gazette and a local newspaper in the area where the deceased lived. The advertisement must state that the debtors and creditors have 30 days in which to lodge any claims against the estate. The executor cannot finalize the L&D account of the estate before this time period expires; and
The inspection period during which the estate account must be available for inspection at the relevant Master’s office. The Master must examine and approve the L&D account and, only when he is satisfied, can it be advertised in the local newspaper as available for all interested parties for a period of 21 days.
All of this can only be done by the executor once appointed in the position of executor, which can take time.
Owing to complex asset structures or tax issues, it often happens that several L&D accounts must be compiled numerous times before the Master is satisfied and the estate can be finalised.
In case of an estate with no complications and where the L&D account gets approved after the first submission, the following is a rough estimate of the timespans of the steps to wind up an estate, with the minimum to maximum number of days needed for each step:
From death to reporting the death to the Master of the High Court and handing in the Will: 2 – 21 days
Waiting for the Master to issue Letters of Executorship to the executor: 2 – 90 days
Placing the advertisement for debtors and creditors: 7 – 14 days
Advertisement time-period: 30 - 44 days
Drafting the L&D account and lodging it with the Master: 7 – 60 days
Waiting for approval from the Master: 14 – 90 days.
Preparing to advertise the L&D account: 7 – 14 days
Advertisement time period: 21 - 28 days
Distributing the assets: 30 - 180 days.
Final requirements and final cash pay-out to heirs: 30 - 180 days
TOTAL NUMBER OF DAYS: 150 - 721 days.
Keep in mind that there are numerous actions that take place when administering an estate in between all of the steps set out above. Service delivery plays a huge part in the time and, in practice, most estates are not straight forward at all.
The truth of the matter is that it is nearly impossible to provide a guarantee on the timespan of winding up an estate. In addition, the current State of Disaster also affects the normal procedures and response times that we were used to before.
for a one-page summary of the estate process.
Sources: FISA and Chatsworth-Tabloid
FEAR OF BEING BURIED ALIVE
It is quite common for people to suffer from phobiae, one of them being buried alive. This is quite an old anecdote dating back to 1758, but during that era, quite a lot of people were mistakenly declared dead and buried alive. This almost happened to the wealthy Hannah Beswick’s brother John as well, which could explain this terrible fear of hers. Most likely, even today, a lot of people could probably relate to Hannah’s fear.
Hannah was terrified of being buried alive. Therefore, she instructed in her Will that Dr Charles White must ensure that she was not. Dr White did not bury Hannah but rather embalmed her body. He mummified and wrapped her in tar-infused bandages, leaving her face uncovered and peeping out from a grandfather clock. Not a very appealing picture to imagine! According to Hannah’s wishes, Dr White formally examined her once a year to confirm that she was still dead. Dr White ultimately also inherited her fortune.
When Dr White passed away, he left the mummy to a doctor friend in his Will. The mummy was later bequeathed to a museum and was dubbed the Manchester Mummy. In 1868, Hannah was finally given a proper burial in Manchester when it was agreed beyond any doubt that 110 years after she died, that she was certainly dead.
Until next time!
The Let’s Talk EFBOE Team