When a loved one passes away, it’s a difficult and stressful time for those left behind, and administration of the deceased estate can add to the burden – particularly when clients are unaware of how long it may take to finalise the process.

When clients don’t understand the process and the time the appointed  executor needs to complete all steps before the heirs can receive their inheritance, this can lead to frustration for both client and intermediary.

The estate administration process:

The administration process for estates of a gross value of R250 000 or more is defined in the Administration of Estates Act. The Master of the High Court publishes regulations to which administrators must adhere.

The table below is a rough guide to how long the different stages in the process may take:

Process Approximate
Reporting the estate to the Master of the High Court and appointment
of an executor
6–10 weeks
Preparatory work for the compilation of liquidation and distribution
account and submission of the account
Further 6–24 weeks
Investigation of liquidation and distribution account by the Master Further 4–8 weeks
Liquidation and distribution account inspection period Further 4–6 weeks
Finalisation of the estate
(after inspection period and provided no objections were lodged)
Further 4–8 weeks
Total for an average estate 6–13 months
by Elna Pieterse, National Manager: Deceased Estates at Sanlam Trust.