This is the second post in our series about executors. If you missed our first post, please click here. In this post we discuss who can be an executor.
Before we can ask the question, “Who can be an executor?”, it is important to know this: Wrapping up an estate requires extensive knowledge in a variety of specialised fields, such as, tax, debt, life assurance and short-term insurance. This applies even to the relatively straightforward cases. What is more, it is a skill in and of itself to negotiate the administrative process of the Master’s office as well as the South African Revenue Service (SARS). But DO NOT WORRY! Thankfully, the person who you choose to be your executor does not have to possess all of this knowledge personally. Your executor will be able to turn to professionals who specialise in the above fields in order to carry out their duties in winding up your estate.
Who can be an executor?
This means that it is possible to nominate someone like your spouse, an adult child, a family member or a friend. It is in fact wise to nominate one of these people because one of the most important elements to nominating an executor is that you nominate someone you trust to take care of your family’s interests. And yes, your executor can still inherit from your estate!
More specifically, any one of these people can be nominated as your executor:
- Your spouse
- Another natural person
- An attorney or firm of attorneys
- An accountant or firm of accountants
- A bank
- A trust company
When you pass away, the person nominated as your executor will then have to apply to the Master of the High Court to be granted the power to step into your shoes. For estates over a certain value, if you nominate a family member to be your executor (or another natural person), the Master’s office will usually require the family member’s application to be accompanied by the name of an agent who will be assisting the family member.
Although the family member is not strictly required to have an agent to assist him or her in fulfilling the duties of an executor, the Master prefers that any layperson appointed to be an executor should be assisted by a professional person or firm. The reason for this decision is that the requirements of the law in this regard are strict and failure to comply with the rules can open up the executor to potential liability. The agent can be a chartered accountant, an attorney, a trust company or a bank.
Together, the agent and the family member executor would decide on which functions the agent would perform on behalf of the executor and which functions the executor would be able to perform himself or herself.
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If you would like further advice on the topic of who to choose as your executor, please do not hesitate to contact Gunstons at [email protected].
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