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Understanding the role of an executor/ executrix dative in the administration of deceased estates

Updated: Jan 29


Introduction


The process of winding up an estate can be an overwhelming task, especially if the deceased was a loved one. This is so,


particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the legal intricacies of this area of law. The role of an executor (male) or executrix (female) dative in Zimbabwe is integral to the administration of estates. As such, this article seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of the role of an executor/executrix dative in the administration of estates in Zimbabwe.


An executor or executrix dative is an individual who is appointed by the Master of the High Court to administer an estate. This often occurs where a deceased dies intestate (without a will). If the deceased leaves a will behind (dies testate), the executor may be named in the will. Nonetheless, an executor/executrix dative role is essentially a fiduciary duty which is placed on the individual who is tasked with the administration of the estate in accordance with the law.


The role of the Executor/ executrix dative


a) Identifying and valuing the assets of the deceased estate - After the administration letters are granted to the executor/executrix dative, he or she shall make an inventory showing the value of the assets and liabilities in the deceased estate. This includes movable and immovable property; mone


y, investments, business interests, and any other assets that the deceased may have owned.


b) Paying off any debts or liabilities – The executor/ executrix dative will be responsible for paying off any debts or liabilities that the deceased might have incurred. This includes taxes, funeral expenses and Master’s fees.


c) Distributing the assets of the estate – After all debts are paid, the executor has the responsibility of distributing the assets of the deceased estate to the beneficiaries named in the will or determined by the Master of the High Court in cases where there is no will.


d) Managing any ongoing business or financial affairs– in instances where the deceased had any business interests or ongoing financial affairs (for example if he or she owned businesses or had shares in a business), the executor may need to continue managing these until they can be properly resolved.


NB: The role of an executor can be complex, and it is important to seek professional legal and financial advice if you are appointed as an executor or are named as a beneficiary of a deceased estate. It is important to get the process right from the beginning to avoid any complications.


DOs:

  • Obtain a copy of the deceased's will, or if there is no will, apply for letters of administration from the Master of the High Court to be able to administer the estate.

  • Contact the deceased's lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor to obtain important information about the deceased’s assets, debts, and taxes. This includes information such as title deeds, bank statements or registration books.

  • Notify by way of advertising, all the relevant authorities, financial institutions, and relevant parties, of the deceased's death (these include debtors and creditors as well as business partners).

  • Collect and secure all the deceased's assets, movable and immovable property including investments, and personal belongings for the inventory required by the Master of the High Court.

  • Pay any outstanding bills or debts of the deceased, including taxes owed, funeral expenses, and medical bills.

  • File the necessary tax returns (with ZIMRA) and obtain tax clearance before distributing the estate.

DONTs:

  • Do not distribute any assets of the estate or sell any asset until all debts and taxes have been paid, all legal requirements have been met and consent has been granted by the Master of the High Court.

  • Do not make decisions regarding the distribution of assets without obtaining proper legal advice first. This ensures that no lawful beneficiaries are disinherited.

  • Do not overlook any assets or debts, as this may cause legal issues in the future.

  • Do not record a false inventory. This means do not exaggerate any values or omit any assets belonging to the deceased’s estate because this is an offence at law.

  • Do not make gifts of any assets before all creditors have been paid.

  • Do not allow personal biases or emotions to influence decisions relating to the estate.

  • Do not delay or ignore any legal requirements or deadlines because this would be costly to the estate and may potentially prejudice beneficiaries.








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Membro desconhecido
07 de jul. de 2023

Insightful article Miss Jackson. Informative read indeed!

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