Nomvula* and her family were sad when her father passed. A month before he passed, he told Nomvula that he was leaving the family home to her. He left behind a will detailing how his assets were to be distributed so that managing his estate would be easier.
But Nomvula’s brother has the will, and is refusing to show it to her or give it to her so that she can claim what is rightfully hers. AZIKHIPHI! That’s not on! She’s asked him over and over again, but he refuses to give it to her, and has taken possession of all her late father’s assets in the meantime. What can she do?
Scorpion Legal Protection’s advice
The South African law of succession sets out the rules which determine the distribution of a person's estate after his death.
It identifies the beneficiaries who are entitled to assets in terms of the deceased's estate, and the extent of the benefits they are to receive, and determines the different rights and duties that persons (for example, beneficiaries and creditors) may have to a deceased's estate.
Without the will though, the estate cannot be dissolved. Nomvula can go to the Master's Office at the High Court, and indicate that there is a will and who is in possession of the will. The Master will then summon this person.
Alternatively, she can lodge an application at the High Court to compel the person who is in possession of the will to provide it to her. This is an expensive option though.
Tips· An executor is the person appointed to handle the process of settling the estate. This person will either be mentioned in the will of the deceased or appointed by the Master of the High Court·
The Master will ultimately decide who will take the role of executor. If the chosen executor doesn’t know how to handle the estate or is unfamiliar with the legal procedure, he or she can go to a lawyer for help.·
Once the executor has been chosen, the Master will give them ‘Letters of Executorship’, which will give only them the authority to handle the estate.· It’s important that any person who wants to act on behalf of the deceased person’s estate have the Letters of Executorship. If not, their actions could be considered illegal.
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* This is only basic advice and cannot be relied on solely. Names have been changed to protect identity.