Lawyers blamed over estate delays
Winding up of the estate of a dead person can take anything from six to 10 years depending on the size of the money, properties and debt to be paid on behalf of the deceased person.
A number of Consumer Line readers expect the process to be quick because they do not understand what it entails to dissolve the deceased estate.
Andrew Kgatla, 61, and his wife Rosy, 60, of Bramley, northern Johannesburg, were running out of patience when they approached Consumer Line for help early last week.
Andrew was appointed as an executor of the estate of his late mother, Matlhago Kgatla, in 2018, he said.
He later approached Sonkosi-Ngalonkulu Incorporated Attorneys to wind up the estate of his late mother, Andrew explained. Because he was the sole beneficiary, Andrew thought the dissolution will not take more than a year.
The estate of his late mother comprised a house valued at R550,000 and about R52,000 the law firm claimed from Absa where his mother held an account, he said.
Rosy said they have been visiting this law firm for the past two years for updates of their late mother-in-law's deceased estate only to be given excuses instead of the progress report.
"If they have not misplaced documents we supplied them they would tell us they have outsourced their service," the couple said.
Pertunia Netshongolwe of Sonkosi-Ngalonkulu said there were no delays on their side, but the process of the dissolution of the deceased estate was long.
Netshongolwe said in winding up the estate the appointed attorney opens a late estate account where the funds claimed from the financial institute are deposited.
"The monies that Kgatla seem to be worried about are safely deposited into this account awaiting distribution after paying all debts, including the amount she owed to the municipality," she said.
Netshongolwe said when the estate was wound up, the statement of the late estate account is drawn after the distribution with a zero balance.
"It is then lodged for audit by the Master of the High Court against the liquidation and distribution account. In their case this has been approved by the Master of the High Court," Netshongolwe said.
"Our law firm explanation was that this was a legal process that involves a number of stakeholders and the [the period of the process] is out of their control.
"We do not have control over the Master of the High Court, the conveyancers, the municipality, the Deeds Office and the bank."
She said that there was a last will and testament by the late Kgatla but the Master of the High Court raised three queries about it which delayed the approval of the liquidation and distribution account which is essential for the distribution to take place.
"After the liquidation and distribution account was approved we then proceeded and advertised notifying the interested parties about the dissolution of this estate,"
This process is essential so that the prospective creditors could claim what is due and payable from the deceased estate, Netshongolwe said.
The advertising is followed by the state where we await for the municipality figures to be settled from the late estate account before the distribution takes place, she said.
"And this is the stage where we are now," she said.