Deceased Estate administration in South Africa

Challenges of Deceased Estate Administration in South Africa

Deceased estate administration is the legal process of finalising a deceased person’s estate. This includes validating the deceased’s will (if one exists) and granting authority to an executor to take control of the deceased’s assets and administer the estate.

In South Africa, the Master of the High Court issues the letters of executorship to an executor and oversees the estate administration process. The executor, whether named in a will or appointed by the Master, is responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes, identifying and valuing the deceased’s assets, paying the debts of the deceased, and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. 

Nominating a qualified executor before your passing will ensure that this process moves along timeously. A qualified executor will have experience in administering estates and take this burden from your shoulders and those of your loved ones. 

Challenges of Deceased Estate Administration for Individuals

Delay in Estate Distribution

Deceased estate administration can be a time-consuming process, often taking several months or even years to complete. During this time, beneficiaries may experience financial strain, especially if they rely on the deceased’s assets for their livelihood. Having a qualified and actively practising fiduciary firm like Marsh Fidelity looking out for you ensures the efficient administration of your estate and, in most cases, this is worth its weight in gold for a grieving family.

Emotional Stress

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already emotionally challenging and the process of estate administration can compound this stress. The legal complexities, paperwork, and time-consuming administration can add an extra burden on grieving family members. A qualified executor like Marsh Fidelity has experience in administering estates and will take the stress out of the process and handle your estate with ease.

Cost Implication

Deceased estate administration can be costly due to various fees, such as filing fees, executors fees, and attorneys fees. These expenses are typically deducted from the estate, potentially reducing the final amount that beneficiaries receive. These costs are compounded if the appointed executor is not qualified to administer an estate as they will then need to look for additional support and assistance. On top of the direct costs, time off work to handle administrative tasks can create a further financial burden. 

Inheritance Disputes

In some cases, unexpected death and ambiguous wills can give rise to disputes among beneficiaries, particularly if the will is contested or if there are disagreements regarding the distribution of assets. These disputes can lead to additional delays and financial strain for all parties involved, especially if the dispute goes to court. This is where having an impartial third party ready to assist your loved ones can help to reduce the strain. Not only will there be a mediator ready to handle any disputes, but your will is held by a qualified professional who can ensure that your intentions are clear and made known to your loved ones. To reduce the risk of disputes after your death, have a qualified professional draft your will, as in our view, automated and shop-bought wills greatly expose your estate to these risks.


Deceased estate administration is an essential legal process that ensures the orderly transfer of assets and payment of debts after a person’s passing. While it serves a crucial purpose, it can be burdensome for individuals in South Africa to effectively manage due to factors such as delays, emotional stress, cost implications and inheritance disputes.

Understanding these potential effects and the estate administration process can help individuals navigate this complex terrain more effectively but this is not enough. Seeking professional advice from qualified fiduciary professionals can provide valuable guidance to those involved, ensuring a smoother experience during an already challenging time.

Ensure that your assets and loved ones are protected in the event of your passing. Contact us at [email protected] today or visit our website at to find out more.

Share this post