Estate Planning Neil Parker Attorneys


Estate planning involves the arrangement of your assets so that they may be moved – in the most efficient way possible – to the people whom you wish to inherit your assets. It also involves ensuring that no unnecessary taxes or estate duty are payable.

The Master of the High Court has to appoint the executor officially, and this can take anything up to three months.

Once appointed, the executor takes control of the administration of your estate, settles any liabilities in your estate and distributes the remainder of your assets in terms of your will.

Estate planning begins with your will.


Make sure your will is up to date and reflects your current wishes on how you would like your assets to be distributed on your death.

Your will should be comprehensive but simple to understand.

Although your will does not have to be dated, dating it makes it easy to identify which is your most recent will.

Make sure that your will is valid: it must be signed by two independent witnesses who do not stand to inherit from the will.

You must name an executor in your will, and if your will establishes a testamentary trust, you should name the trustees of the trust.

We recommend that you appoint Neil Parker Attorneys as executors and trustees as we have the skills and knowledge to wind up your estate efficiently and as quickly as possible. We are also negotiable on our fees.

And keep it safe! If the original joint will cannot be found, the surviving spouse will die intestate. The assets will be divided in terms of the Intestate Succession Act, and this may not be how you wanted your assets to be split.

Neil Parker Attorneys offer a free custody service.


If you have overseas assets, you should make a separate will for your offshore estate.

Each person’s estate is entitled to an exemption or abatement from estate duty on assets up to R3.5 million. Estate duty of 20 percent is charged on assets that exceed this amount.

However, legislation was changed recently to allow the estate of the second-dying spouse to use any portion of the exemption that the estate of the first-dying spouse did not utilise. This means that if the first-dying spouse left all his or her assets to his or her spouse, and therefore did not use any portion of the R3.5-million exemption, the exemption will roll over to the surviving spouse, and his or her estate will enjoy an exemption of R7 million on his or her death. Therefore consider leaving your estate to your spouse!

A testamentary trust can protect the interests of beneficiaries such as minor children, a disabled child or a spouse with a degenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s.

And last but not least, if your estate will not have enough liquidity to pay off your liabilities, make sure you take out life cover that will pay out when you die and cover these liabilities.