A summary of the administration process of deceased estates

Losing a loved one is undeniably one of life’s most challenging experiences. Amidst the emotional turmoil, there’s a practical aspect that often needs immediate attention: the administration of the deceased’s estate. In South Africa, this process can seem daunting and complex, especially for those unfamiliar with legal procedures and requirements. However, with the right guidance and understanding, navigating the administration process can become more manageable. In this blog, we’ll delve into the essential steps and considerations involved in administering a deceased estate in South Africa, shedding light on key aspects to help you manoeuvre this journey with clarity and confidence. Whether you’re a family member, executor, or legal representative, this guide aims to provide valuable insights to ease the burden during this challenging time.


The administration of an estate entails a large number of activities which differ from estate to estate. The sequence in which the various steps are carried out will not be exactly the same for each estate. The following is a summary of the administration process for the “normal type” of estate:


  1. Opening of the main file in the attorney’s office;
  2. A first interview with the relatives to obtain essential information and to have documents signed;
  3. Reporting the estate with the Master by lodging the:
    • Death notice;
    • Inventory
    • Original will
    • Acceptance of trust as executor
  4. Letters to known creditors and debtors in order to determine the claims for and against the estate;
  5. Obtaining valuations of movable and immovable estate assets;
  6. The completion and submission of an income tax return;
  7. Receipt of the letter of executorship;
  8. Placement of the notice to creditors in the Government Gazette and in a newspaper;
  9. Opening an estate bank account;
  10. Determining whether the estate is solvent and determining a suitable method of administration in consultation with the executor and beneficiaries;
  11. The collection of sufficient cash to pay the administration costs and debts;
  12. The preparation and submission of the Liquidation and Distribution Account and the preparation of the estate duty return;
  13. Fulfilment of the Master’s requirements on possible amendments to the Liquidation and Distribution Account;
  14. Placement of a notice in the Government Gazette and newspaper to the effect that the Liquidation and Distribution Account is lying open for inspection at the Master’s Office;
  15. The payment of any outstanding debt;
  16. The payment and/or transfer of legacies and inheritances to beneficiaries;
  17. The payment of Master’s fees;
  18. The payment of estate duty, if the estate is dutiable;
  19. Fulfilment of the Master’s final requirements;
  20. Receipt of filing notice from the Master;


Should you require assistance with the administration of the estate of a loved one contact Burden Swart & Botha Attorneys.