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A qualified executor to administer your estate can make all the difference (Media Release)
Opinion editorial by René le Roux, Estate Administrator at Legatus Trust (Media Release 20150301)
Having a will in place, nominating a qualified, experienced executor makes it so much easier to administer the estate of a deceased loved one. However, the role of the executor is often misunderstood. Can one appoint a family member? Will there be costs involved? What do the duties of an executor entail?
An executor has very specific tasks when administering a deceased estate; it is his duty to handle the legal formalities associated with the estate:
For some people it seems like the easiest option to appoint a family member. While it’s common practice to do so, one should be aware of the possible implications. Family members may struggle with emotional involvement getting in the way, thus preventing them from effectively administering the estate. Since family members being appointed are often not qualified enough to handle the process on their own, they will in most cases be requested by the Master of the High Court to approach a trust company, a financial institution, attorney or chartered accountant to assist them with the administration of the estate and act as their agent. In cases like this it will be necessary to give the agent power of attorney before they will be able to proceed.
There are other problems that can arise when appointing an executor:
Trust companies like Legatus Trust, a long-standing, well respected authority on the drafting of wills and rendering fiduciary services throughout South Africa, offer more consistency and security than a private executor. If the appointed executor passes away or resigns, another one can immediately be appointed by the firm without having to delay the process. A reputable company also provides peace of mind, knowing that qualified personnel are in charge.
But, what’s it all going to cost? It’s good to know that executors’ fees are regulated, and rates are capped at a maximum of 3.5% (plus VAT) of the gross value of the estate’s assets. However, there are additional costs, including a master’s fee, advertisement cost, rates and taxes clearance figures, and conveyancing costs when there is a fixed property involved.
The executor is entitled to a 6% collection fee on all interest earned on investments and income received after the death of the deceased.
Going straight for the cheapest option is not always your best bet – you will almost certainly get what you pay for.
To make things a little bit easier for your next of kin in the event of your death, open a folder to keep all your important documents: a copy of your will, the details of your executor, your bank statements, insurance policy numbers, as well as proof of all your assets and liabilities. Also include the details of any beneficiaries – even organizations – as well as marriage and divorce papers.
An unqualified and inexperienced person thrown into the deep end of the pool – even when it might be a very trusted family member – is likely to result in confusion and potential disaster. Ask the right questions, and find an experienced and qualified executor who can give you the best possible advice and guidance.
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