SOUTH-AFRICA-L ArchivesArchiver > SOUTH-AFRICA > 2010-03 > 1269781002
From: Andrew Rodger <>
Subject: Re: [SOUTH-AFRICA] Deceased beneficiaries
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2010 23:06:18 +1000
On 27 Mar 2010, at 8:02 PM, Paxie Kelsey wrote:
> Hi Andrew,
> Three questions.
> What happens to the funds should all beneficiaries be deceased?
> Who gets the assets?
> Is the Estate liquidated first?
> I know there is a site in the US where you can search to see if you
> are a long lost beneficiary and those funds appear to have just lain
> there for years. This was one among them
Now it's getting difficult -- and you'll appreciate that we didn't do
really difficult estates if we could avoid it, too unprofitable! We
always asked all the relevant questions of the testator when we
prepared the will in the first place, and kept in touch with the
testator for the rest of his life (through the branch that introduced
the business) to make sure the will remained up to date. So I never
had actual experience of what happened in such cases. You should be
able to find out from any half-way decent law text-book, though -- try
a good reference library, seeing you are apparently resident in SA
(e.g. the National Library in Cape Town or any University library).
The case I cited was one of effective intestacy, and the money would
have passed to the chap in New York under the Rules of Intestacy, but
in the event it passed instead to his executor in that State because it
had accrued to him before he in turn died, and would have been dealt
with either under his will if he had made one, or under the Rules of
Intestacy for New York State (that is a State matter in the US, not
Federal). It was no concern of ours, once we had secured the
executor's receipt for the disbursement from the estate we were doing.
Regardless of who gets the money in the end, the estate is always wound
up in exactly the same way. I don't know what would happen if there
were heirs but they could not be found: an unlikely situation, seeing
that once you have established that an heir exists, you should also
know where he is. If an heir predeceases the testator, what happens to
his share depends on the terms of the Will: it may, for example be so
worded that his descendants get his share between them (in equal
shares), or it may provide for all the descendants to take equal shares
with the deceased descendant's siblings, and so forth. Such clauses
need extremely careful drafting. In intestacy the rules are laid down
by statute, but if there is a will you have to follow that.
I suppose that in some jurisdictions money could lie unclaimed but most
countries have Unclaimed Monies legislation providing for forfeiture of
such monies to the State, after advertisement in the Government
Gazette, and subject to the claims of the owners if they should ever
turn up, and such claims would normally have to be submitted through
the bank or other institution that had originally paid the money to the
Government. In many countries there are enterprising people who make a
business of trying to recover Unclaimed Monies from those who don't
know how to set about it, by (these days) getting hold of digital
versions of the Government Gazette listings and searching through those
very quickly and then charging a hefty commission. I'm sure the site
you mention is one of those; one would expect that such would exist in