Losing a loved one is not easy, and if you also have to sort out their affairs, it can seem overwhelming. But don’t worry, this guide is here to help you.
5 Key things you need to do when a loved one passes away
1. Notify the relevant parties
Here is a list of all the parties you must report the death to. For your convenience, we have included the relevant contact details.
You will need to contact your nearest Department of Home Affairs and complete a death notification (BI-1663 form).
The following people have to complete different sections of the BI-1663 form:
- The person reporting the death
- A medical practitioner (or a traditional healer)
- A Home Affairs official or a member of the SA Police Services
The department of Home Affairs will issue a death certificate once the steps for registering a death certificate have been completed
Contact the Department of Home Affairs for information on how to register a death and for the process of issuing a death certificate.
- If your loved one had any Absa products, you can notify the Absa Deceased Estates team as soon as possible at email@example.com or by reporting the death online.
- Please include the following:
- A copy of the death certificate
- Details of who the nominated person/trust/company is in the will.
- If Absa Trust was nominated in your loved one’s will as the executor, you should reach out to them to assist you with the process.
- Contact number: 0860 110 287
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- On the passing of a loved one, by law, the estate needs to be reported to the Master of the High Court in the area where the family member resided, within 14 days.
- Depending on the value of the estate, the following reporting documents will differ:
- If the value of the estate is above R250 000, an executor will have to be appointed to wind up the estate and a letter of executorship will be issued.
- If the value of the estate is below R250 000, a Master’s representative will be appointed to wind up the estate and a letter of authority will be issued.
- It is important to note that all documents need to be handed in or posted to the Master’s office. No faxed documents will be accepted by the Master of the High Court.
- When completing the documents, the nominated executor must make sure that the inventory is completed accurately, and to the best of their knowledge.
- Visit the Master’s website for more details on the process and required documents.
2. Appoint an executor
- Once the estate has been reported to the Master of the High Court, a Letter of Authority/Letter of Executorship will be issued to the appointed Master’s representative/executor who will assist you.
- If there is no will or nominated executor in the will, a nomination can be attended to as part of the process of reporting the estate to the Master.
- The Master's representative/executor has a duty to make sure that the estate is wound up within a reasonable time in line with the applicable law. If the Master's representative/executor does not fulfil his/her duties, we, as the creditor in the estate, will – as a last option – take legal action required to ensure that the Master's representative/executor fulfils his/her duty.
3. Wind up the estate’s financials
The Executor/Master’s representative is responsible for winding up the estate, ensuring that all creditors are paid and that any remaining assets or money is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries, in line with the deceased’s will.
- It is important to make sure that the assets and liabilities of the deceased are accurately reflected in the inventory. In the instance where it is a S18(3) estate, where there are immovable assets, bank accounts and /or policies that are listed in the inventory, the proof of the value will have to be lodged with the inventory. If you don’t have the value or proof, you will need to obtain an MBU9(A) or MBU9(B) letter (completed, signed and rubberstamped) from the Master of the High Court to provide all relevant institutions to obtain the value, and to avoid any challenges down the line.
Some things to remember:
- The amounts outstanding on any products that the deceased had on his/her passing will be due and payable to Absa.
- Interest rates and fees may continue to accrue after the death of a client.
- On appointment of an Executor and notification thereof, we will submit a claim against the estate for any debt due.
- If there is insurance, a claim will need to be submitted to the relevant insurer. Please refer to the insurance section.
- If the deceased’s estate does not have sufficient funds to settle any claims against the estate, the executor will contact the heirs on the next steps.
- How such claims will be settled will be discussed with the executor. There is more information further on in this guide on how these claims could be settled.
- In the event that you require more information in respect of the administration process, the appointed executor/Master’s representative can provide further guidance.
4. Submit any insurance claims
There are several kinds of cover or insurance that the deceased may have had, and at the time of death, they will be payable to his/her estate. For example:
- A Death Benefit
- Funeral Cover
- Bridging Finance
- An Executor Fee Plan
- Value-added benefits with their transactional account (Absa Current/Cheque Account, FlexiSave, TrueSave, Gold Value Bundle and Premium Accounts).
The executor or beneficiary can contact the Absa Life Call Centre on 0860 227 253 for more information on such payments.
The Absa Deceased Estates team will assist directly as a part of settling any outstanding debt that the client might have with the bank.
If the family needs to submit a funeral claim before the appointment of an executor, the nominated family member must submit the following documents to any Absa branch (24 to 48 hours for payment to reflect):
- A certified and dated copy of the death certificate
- A certified and dated copy of the ID of the deceased
- A funeral parlour invoice (reflecting their banking details).
5. Home loans or vehicle finance
1. Home loans
2. Vehicle Finance
What happens to the vehicle on the passing of a loved one?
The amount outstanding on the vehicle account is due to Absa and the options below will apply:
- The executor/Master’s representative will determine whether there is credit life insurance and submit a claim to the insurance department.
In the absence of an insurance cover, the following options are available to settle the account balance:
- If the heir or executor wants to keep the vehicle, we will engage with the executor of the estate to settle the account from the estate funds.
- If the estate does not have sufficient funds to settle the balance, the heir or executor can apply for re-financing of the vehicle. The application can be made at any Absa branch, and the normal credit lending criteria will apply.
- The heir or executor can sell the vehicle to a third party or dealer if they receive an offer. The offer is subject to the bank’s approval to ensure that the balance is settled.
- If the estate has insufficient funds to settle the balance and there are no offers, we will arrange with the executor to uplift the vehicle for sale at an auction. The proceeds will be allocated to the account and if there is a shortfall on the balance, the estate will be responsible for the remaining balance.
- Once the account is settled, the transfer of ownership document and paid-up letter will be delivered to the executor’s offices or to the nearest branch.
Some things to remember
- Please inform the bank of the address where the vehicle will be kept while the estate is finalised.
- A short-term insurance policy must be in place if the vehicle is being used during the winding-up process.
- If the vehicle was settled before the deceased’s passing, contact the AVAF Document Hub at email@example.com for the transfer of ownership documents.
The following information will be required:
- Contact details
- Attention person
- Letter of Executorship (if executor) or Letter of Authority (if Master’s representative)
- Death certificate
- ID copy of the deceased
- Full vehicle details
If there is anything you are not sure of, please contact our Deceased Estates team on 0861 113 003.
They are available on Mondays - Fridays from 08:30 - 16:30.
Understanding the terminology
- Estate: All the assets and the liabilities that belonged to the deceased at the time of death.
- Executor: This is the person appointed by the Master and is responsible for paying all creditors within the estate and ensuring that the assets of the estate are distributed in line with the wishes of the deceased in his/her will. If there is no will, intestate succession will follow.
- Intestate: If the deceased did not have a valid will in place, their estate is considered to be intestate. If an estate is intestate, it will be wound up in terms of the Intestate Succession Act 81 of 1987.
- Creditor: A creditor is someone who was owed money by the client on his/her passing.
- The Master: This is the person who will oversee the estate process, who is responsible for the appointment and issuing of a Letter of Executorship or Letter of Authority and who provides the necessary oversight in ensuring that the executor fulfils his/her duties in line with the laws regarding deceased estates.
- Claim against the estate: This is any amount owed by the deceased on his/her passing. Claims for these amounts will be submitted to the estate by all creditors of the estate.
- Letter of Executorship: This is the document that confirms the appointment of the executor. The Letter of Executorship is issued by the Master of the High Court. A Letter of Executorship is issued when an estate has a value above R250 000.
- Letter of Authority: This confirms the appointment of the Master’s Representative. A Letter of Authority can be issued for an estate with a value less than R250 000 [Section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act].