A practical guideline for a deceased’s next of kin

Make sure your clients leave a legacy – not a mess.  Inform them to securely share important information with the important people in their lives.

People normally do not think about death and therefore do not plan accordingly to ensure that everything is in place.  Life can also be so hectic, that practical challenges surrounding death are not contemplated.

When one dies, funds in banking accounts are not accessible and assets are frozen until an Executor has been appointed to administer the estate.  Although the Executor can then take control of assets and accounts, it takes months and sometimes even longer to finalize an estate.

Provision needs to be made for loved ones to have access to sufficient funds to pay for funeral costs and to maintain the household for a few months.  You, as a financial advisor, are in the fortunate position to advise your clients on investments and insurance policies that can cover the next of kin while all the other processes fall into place.  It is a good idea to inform your clients to have separate banking accounts as joint accounts will be closed.

When a person passes away, the family is in shock and it is difficult to deal with death as well as all the accompanying issues.  Suggest to your clients to keep a file with the following information stored in a safe, but still accessible place:

  • Notes on where the safes are, extra keys, ammunition safes, other documents, passwords and pin codes.
  • Important documents related to your assets and liabilities – title deeds, registration certificates for vehicles, lease and loan agreements, insurance policies, share certificates, copies of firearm licenses, income tax returns and records including valuations of properties for Capital Gains Tax as well as proof of improvements (invoices and receipts).  Also, medical accounts and receipts.  In effect, áll documents that can assist the family to provide details and the Executor to report and administer the estate.
  • A list of monthly, recurring expenses and debit orders.  Add a bank statement with full descriptions of debit orders reflected on the statement.
  • Details of companies, closed corporations and trusts in which the client or his/her family has shares/an interest in or are beneficiaries of.  Copies of company documents, founding statements or trust deeds.
  • Details of bank accounts, including savings accounts and credit cards, investments, life insurance policies, annuities and shares with proof in the form of statements, letters, etc.
  • A complete list of assets (with full details of assets as well as loans to acquaintances and family members) and a detailed list of liabilities with contact details of creditors and debtors as well as statements and documentary proof.
  • Important documents like marriage and birth certificates, ANC contract, co-habitation agreement, divorce decree and settlement agreement (of all previous marriages as well), adoption papers, ID documents of predeceased spouses, children, etc., just to name a few.
  • Copies of various ID documents – client, spouse, children, other dependents or beneficiaries, nominated guardians, etc.
  • Medical Aid information, funeral policies or plans to cover the burial.
  • Your Living Will containing written instructions on ceremonial wishes surrounding a traditional funeral or cremation.  Next of kin should be aware of wishes in this regard as well as about donating of organs.
  • A copy of the Will and contact number of the Executor. (The nominated Executor should already have an original Will in safe custody.)
  • A list with names and contact numbers of family members that can be contacted for support and advice.  The name and contact numbers of the following (if applicable):  financial planner, investment manager, banker, attorney, accountant, tax practitioner, insurance broker, medical advisor, doctor, employer, employees, partners, etc.
    • Unlocking codes, passwords, PIN codes and access codes are very important in the electronic era we live in and are quite frequently overlooked in the preparation for this final surrender.  Next of kin will need access to computers, cell phones, tablets, online accounts and portfolios, payment portals, e-mails, social media and so forth.
  • Any information and documents which may be applicable, i.e. TV license, DSTV contract, cell phone contracts.  Bond account statements, municipal levy accounts, time share contracts.
  • Details of things that maybe history for you, but nobody has knowledge of.

Where there are copies in the file also indicate where the original documents are stored.

This file should be stored in a safe place and the next-of-kin should know where it is kept and how they can get access to it. It defies the issue if the file is locked in a safe and no one knows where the keys are.

This may seem like a very long list, but it helps with the winding up of an estate process and can make life so much easier for those left behind.  Even though we live in a digital age, paperwork still counts and speak on one’s behalf when one is not present.


Whatever you do always give 100%. Unless you are donating blood…

An optimist believes that we live in the best world. A pessimist is afraid that it might be true.


Source: Legatus