The Duties of an Executor of Estate

The duties of an executor of estate - the person who is in charge of the winding up of your estate after you have passed away - is seen as one of the hardest jobs for anyone close to the deceased loved one to undertake. 

An executor can be an attorney, friend or family member that the deceased person trusted. The duties of an executor include the following:

The executor needs to have access to the will, check its validity, establish who the beneficiaries are, and get a rough idea of the assets and liabilities of the estate.

In order to accurately complete this task, the executor needs to gather items such as bank accounts, title deeds to property, insurance policy documents and any other documentation that they can find that pertains to the financial affairs of the deceased.

If the beneficiaries are named in a life insurance policy, the proceeds can be paid directly to the beneficiaries, providing cash to dependents while the estate is being wound up.

An executor has to take inventory of all the assets and the property, by obtaining an official form from the office of the Master of the High Court or from legal stationers.

The inventory should indicate the total amount of assets. If the assets exceed R250 000, the surviving spouse or closest living blood relative of the deceased has to sign the inventory.

If the assets are less than R250 000, the Master of the High Court can shorten the procedure by allowing the estate to be wound up in an informal, cost effective manner.

The executor must obtain an 'Acceptance of Trust' form from the Master's office, which should be completed and signed in duplicate. A copy of the form will be forwarded to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Appointment of the Executor of the Estate

The executor needs to apply to the Master of the High Court to be formally appointed and granted the necessary powers to administer the estate.

This process takes up to six weeks, depending on which Master's office is involved. In order to expedite this process, take the following documents along to the Master's office:

  • The original will, (it is advisable to get a receipt when you hand it over).
  • The death notice.
  • An inventory.
  • A certified copy of the death certificate.
  • An acceptance of trust form, in duplicate.
  • A next of kin affidavit.
  • An affidavit that the estate has not been reported to another Master’s office. 
  • A list of creditors.

The executor should obtain a 'Letter of Executorship" from the Master of the High Court. The letter of executorship is only granted to persons who have been authorised to deal with the estate, and who have agreed to accept the duties of winding up the estate.

Copies of the letter of executorship will be needed by banks and insurance companies.

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated

The above-mentioned duties are a basic guide for straightforward cases. Possible complications may arise in more complex situations. If your situation is unusual in any way, legal advice is recommended.

For legal advice from attorneys who specialise in Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning and Executorship, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated.


A Win For Heterosexual Life Partner - The Bwanya Case


In a recent landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court (Concourt) confirmed the invalidity of Section 1 (1) of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987, as well as Section 1 of the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act 27 of 1990. The initial application had been brought before the Western Cape division of the High Court whereby the Applicant (surviving life partner) sought an order against the Executor’s rejection of a claim for inheritance and maintenance against the deceased estate.

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Posted by Cor van Deventer on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 Views: 143