Deceased Estates Administration In Zimbabwe

Deceased Estates Administration In Zimbabwe

Administration of an estate of a deceased person involves the registration of the estate and the distribution of the property thereof. In Zimbabwe administration of estates is governed by the Administration of Estates Act [Chapter 6:01].

The Act provides for the role of the Master who oversees the whole process of deceased estate administration at a cost. Depending on the circumstances, an estate can be registered either at the High Court or at the Magistrates Court. There are numerous procedures to be followed from the filing of death notice to the winding up of the estate which can take at least six(6) months.

This process can be cumbersome especially when one is not well versed with the procedures. A close relative should file a death notice with the Master within 14 days of death. If the deceased was married, the surviving spouse usually is the custodian of the property until an executor is appointed. The deceased’s family has the right to use the assets left behind until the estate administration is wound up.

Appointment of an executor

The Master will call upon the surviving spouse( if available )and five relatives of the deceased for an edict meeting to select an executor. If for any reason, there is no agreement as to who should be the executor, the Master may appoint an independent executor.

The Master issues Letters of Administration authorising the executor to carry out the obligation of the deceased.

Duties of the executor

Throughout the whole process of estate administration , the executor should work closely with the Master. Further, the executor should also work closely with the deceased’s family and beneficiaries in coming up with a distribution plan. This plan is then submitted to the Master for approval if the he is satisfied that it is lawful and all the beneficiaries have consented to the plan.

The executor should publish, in the Government Gazette and a local newspaper, a notice calling upon creditors to lodge claims against the estate within 30 days of publication and obtain sworn valuations of the assets of the estate

It should also be ascertained whether or not the estate is solvent. There are other numerous duties of the executor involved till the estate is wound up including the lodging of a Liquidation and Distribution Account reflecting all assets and liabilities. The executor should bear in mind that they have a duty to the estate and should not be involved in any family arguments regarding the estate.

Removal of the executor from office

If the beneficiaries feel that the executor is not properly discharging their duties, they may lodge a complaint with the Master who may carry out an enquiry if he feels the claim is substantiated. The Master will then apply to a Judge of the High Court for the executor to be removed and another one to be appointed.

Please take note that this article should not be taken as legal advice but as general information regarding the subject matter. The writer can be contacted at for more information.

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