Nothing in life is guaranteed except death and taxes. In practice, it is common practice for us, at Rauch Gertenbach, to transport property under a contract of sale where one of the parties has died. Imagine a scenario where you have made an offer on your dream home and the owner has accepted it. Your mortgage has been approved and you have already notified your landlord that you will vacate at the end of the month. To your shock, you now hear from the transport attorneys that the seller died in a freak car accident over the weekend. What to do now?

First of all, it is important to understand that the fact that the seller / owner is now deceased does not invalidate the contract of sale and the contract does not expire if he has signed it before his death. On the contrary, there is still a valid, enforceable agreement in place and, as a buyer, you still have the right to transport the property into your name.

The Act requires the Master of the Supreme Court to appoint an executor who can provide transport on behalf of the deceased. In practice, this means that the deceased's estate must be reported to the relevant Master's Office and upon receipt of the executor's letter, the executor appointed by it may sign the necessary transport documents for transport. This process can take anything from a month to several months depending on the relevant Master's Office.

A distinction must be made between whether the contract has been entered into by the seller during his lifetime and whether it has been signed by the executor after the seller's death. If the purchase contract has been signed by the executor, the Act further requires that the relevant Master agrees to the sale of the property and all the deceased's heirs must consent in writing to the sale. This process can once again take anything from a month to several months.

It should be borne in mind that transfer duties will still be payable despite the fact that the seller has passed away. Buyers (and sellers) should note that the sale of real estate will affect his will. Our office will be happy to assist you with free advice and assistance in setting up or updating your will.
Should you require any further information, do not hesitate to contact Paul Delport or Jaco Fourie on 044 601 9900 or office@rgprok.co.za .