The process of claiming from a deceased’s estate can be a daunting exercise for surviving family members, especially if the deceased was the sole bread-winner.

Family members are often under the impression that, once there is a death in the family, the estate of the deceased will be released within a short period of time to bring financial relief. However, what most individuals do not realise, is that the process at the Master of the High Court (hereafter referred to as “the Master”) is a lengthy one.

The length of the process will be, amongst other things, determined by the total value of the estate as prescribed by the Administration of Estates Act, 66 of 1965. A small estate will be an estate with a value below R 250 000.00. Whereas a bigger estate, will be an estate with a value above R 250 000.00. Most likely, a deceased estate can take approximately a year or more to complete. Only once the process is complete, will the heirs be able to receive their inheritance.

Family members should always be prepared to care for themselves in the interim and some expertise is required in order to complete the process, such as drafting a liquidation and distribution account.

A brief summary of the process will be discussed in this article in order to highlight why the process can be considered this lengthy.