Although not the executor of the estate, a reader wants to know how she can handle its administration because the appointed executor, her aunt, is not capable of carrying out the required duties.
Her father remarried after her mother died some years ago, but his second wife died soon after the marriage. This was followed by her father’s death.
She says he had a will which included four of his children as beneficiaries, but excluded her.
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The reader’s aunt has neglected her duties and all the municipal accounts in respect of the property in the estate are sent to her, which she is paying.
The aunt says everything has been handed to the reader for administration as she is getting too old to deal with the issues at stake.
An executor is appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Administration of Estates Act.
The act allows for an executor to nominate a third party to assume the role of executor by way of a deed of assumption.
Assuming that the requirements are met, the letters of authority will be endorsed to reflect the details of the assumed executor replacing the testamentary executor.
This will provide the reader with the necessary authority to properly administer the estate.
As the reader is the daughter of the deceased, it should not be necessary for her to provide security.
This is often a requirement under section 23 of the act to ensure the executor’s functions are performed properly.
Given that the reader is not one of the beneficiaries, she should be aware that this process allows for her to be appointed merely as executor of the estate and not as a beneficiary.
The only benefit she may be able to acquire from the administration process is the executor’s fee.
It is concerning that the reader has been servicing the debts of the estate, particularly in respect of the municipal services accounts.
The reader says she is regarded as the most responsible person in the family and it is probably for this reason that the executor forwarded the accounts to her for payment.
It is not clear whether the executor expected the reader to approach the beneficiaries for contributions to such payments, but it does not appear to be fair that she should be contributing to the expenses, particularly as she is not a beneficiary.
The property in the estate should be dealt with according to the will and transferred to the appropriate beneficiaries or sold.
It would appear that the estate is not sufficiently cash-flush to cover, inter alia, the municipal service accounts.
If no additional funds are introduced, movable assets in the estate could be sold to cover the various expenses of the estate.
It should also be considered that the estate will incur other expenses through the administration process, including advertising costs, bank charges and Master’s fees.
Once all expenses are considered, it may result in the executor having to make a call on selling the property should the financial circumstances of the estate dictate that this must be done.
The reader, who has paid the municipal services accounts, would potentially have a claim against the estate for recovery of those amounts.
It is not advisable for her to pay anything more in her personal capacity as it would appear that there is a fair chance the estate is not in a financial position to refund her.
Again, the sale of the property may be the only way in which the estate will be able to realise sufficient funds to cover its expenses.
The reader should consider approaching a professional person, such as her attorney, to assist her in the administration process.
This would also help in making a few difficult choices which may impact on the family, particularly those residing on the property held under the estate.
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