The Estate Late Account

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As said in my book at the top of page 56, when a person dies ALL his/her financial accounts and assets are immediately frozen. I have previously written that the Master of the High Court requires bank statements of the deceased bank account(s) as at the day of death.

Currently my husband is the Executor of an estate and I am assisting him with some of the preparation of records and e-mails and we are learning all the time. As said in my book at the top of page 56, when a person dies ALL his/her financial accounts and assets are immediately frozen. I have previously written that the Master of the High Court requires bank statements of the deceased bank account(s) as at the day of death.

OPENING AN ESTATE LATE ACCOUNT

Once the Executor has received the Letters of Executorship or Administration, depending upon the asset value of the estate (pages 56-59), a bank account, known as the estate late account, must be opened. eg Estate Late John Smith or Jane Jones.

Only the Executor has access to this account and is the only one who can obtain statements or other information on the account. Interestingly, we have been told by the bank that the Executor cannot even have ‘read only’ electronic access to the account.

DEPOSITS

Deposits into the account may be made through any form – cash, EFT, cheque

PAYMENTS

Conversely, payments may ONLY be made by cheque. Generally, South Africa has quite high banking fees and cheques are one of the highest. On opening the account, a cheque book is given to the Executor.

FEES

As soon as the account has been opened charges will start to accumulate.

  1. The cheque book is the first thing to be issued and charged for. In our current Executorship situation and, this is probably the same with any Estate Late account, the charge for the cheque book meant the account was immediately overdrawn as no money had been deposited. Money had to be received from the deceased’s previous bank account, Retirement Annuity payments, sale of the house and car and other assets and this takes time. We received daily messages on our phones and e-mails saying that the account was overdrawn! It was only when a letter was sent to the Bank’s Senior Management at Head office that this cost was reversed.
  2. The monthly service fee which is usually highest for the smallest accounts. Every cheque is charged for and for this account it is R45/cheque. It is significantly higher for a cheque which is incorrectly completed or returned due to a wrong account number for example. One needs to be very careful when writing out any cheques.
  3. A statement and, for some reason, our bank will print only one page time at a cost of R10! 
  4. Cash deposits are also charged for.

It is important to note that the costs shown are those of the bank where the account for the estate for which my husband is the Executor is held. Other banks will have similar charges for these items. You are advised to ensure that your nominated Executor, if this not a bank, law firm or accounting firm, is aware that this is the situation with an Estate Late account and these costs must be factored in when doing calculations and the final Liquidation and Distribution (L&D) account.

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