Questions & AnswersCategory: General QuestionsWhat happens if someone dies without a will?
Ismail Mohamed asked 6 years ago

My father of 64 years old recently dies with cancer. We are 6 children, of which I am the youngest. I ahve a simple question: What happens to my fathers will/assets when he died?

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Ismail Mohamed answered 6 years ago

When a person dies all his debts must be paid from his assets and everything that is left over must be distributed to his heirs or legatees. All this must be done in accordance with the law. In order to ensure that this process is executed in accordance with the law, the law requires that the process be supervised by the Master of the High Court.

When the deceased leaves a valid will, the law requires that his estate devolve pursuant to the terms of the will. In such a case, the law says that all the debts of the deceased must first be paid. The law requires further that certain other obligations as well as the costs to administer the administration of the estate be deducted from what is left over of the estate after the debts have been paid. That balance will then be distributed to those the deceased has identified to inherit.

In the case where the deceased has left no valid will (or in some cases an ante-nuptial contract containing inheritance provisions) the law requires that his estate be administered in the same manner as described in the above paragraph. However, since the deceased did not identify any persons to inherit from him, his heirs will then be identified by the laws of intestate succession. These are rules which determines which persons will inherit the residue of the deceased’s estate.