Many South Africans have some plan in place to help cover the costs of the funeral should a loved one pass away.  What many don’t realise, is that there are many more costs related to death that you should plan for.  This blog will look at seven unavoidable costs after the funeral.

Funeral cover and burial society memberships play an important role as this will safeguard the other family members against debt when a loved one passes away.  Unfortunately, the expenses don’t stop after the funeral and you want to ensure that your family can cover these costs after you die.

Here are seven unavoidable costs you need to plan for:

Immediate expenses:

On death, bank accounts could be frozen, and family will have limited access to money.

They will still need to cover basic costs – such as the cost of the funeral, traveling, groceries and any other immediate expenses.

Liquidity after a death, especially that of a breadwinner, can leave a family struggling to cover the day-to-day expenses.  You need to ensure your family can access cash in the days and weeks following your death.

Monthly living expenses:

Estates can take months, sometimes years, to wrap up.  Families mistakenly assume that the Estate will pay the monthly ongoing expenses such as the water and electricity, rent, school fees and medical aid.  However, the funds are often tied up until the Estate is finalised.

This is why it is of utmost importance to have a valid Will in the first place.  This speeds up the process of finalising the Estate, and gives the family access to the capital, once estate is finalised, for them to get by.

Executor fees:

You may think that you don’t have enough assets or capital to justify having a Will drawn up.  But even if you only have a few thousand rands in your bank account, this can be considered an estate.  Winding up the simplest of estate is a complicated administrative process – and it’s often more cost effective to get a professional to do this.

However, an Executor can charge up to 3.5% + VAT of the value of your estate in order to do the work.  So, on an estate worth R3 million you would need to pay approximately R120 000.00 in Executor’s fees.  If you don’t have this money available, the Executor is entitled to auction off your assets to pay his fees.

Administrative fees

Following a death, two advertisements must be placed in a local newspaper and the Government Gazette to notify potential creditors.

The costs can vary between R1,000 and R1,500 depending on the publication selected. You’ll also need to pay fees associated with corresponding with the Master of the High Court as well as a fee to the Master of the High Court for its role in the administration of the Estate.

Fees related to selling or transferring property:

Whether you’re selling a property or transferring it into a beneficiary’s name, a Conveyancing Attorney will charge a fee when transferring ownership. For example, a home worth R1 850 000 would cost more than R30 000 in fees to the Estate when it is transferred into a beneficiary’s name.

You’ll also need a rates and water clearance certificate from the city council or municipality before ownership can be transferred. This will be issued only if the rates and taxes are paid in advance. Some areas even require up to six months paid in advance.


Not only will all outstanding taxes have to be paid from the Estate before it can be finalised, but the Executor will have to determine whether Capital Gains Tax (CGT) or Estate Duty is payable.

Most people leave their entire estate to their spouse, but if both of you pass away and your children inherit everything then Capital Gains Tax and inheritance taxes are triggered.

Your family will need to cover the burden of these additional taxes as well as any further legal fees.

Testamentary Trust fees:

If you are leaving an inheritance to minors, you need to set up a Trust upon your death for them to inherit your assets. Trust and ongoing Trustee fees, however, can erode their inheritance.

On average, 1.15% of the net asset value is charged to establish the Trust, and 1.6% is charged annually for the ongoing administration of the Trust.

For example, the total cost on a Trust with R1.5 million in assets over 15 years would amount to over R377,000.

“Most of these fees and costs are unavoidable and people tend not to make provision ahead of time which means their beneficiaries are faced with mounting costs at a time when they are already grieving the loss of a loved one and adapting to their changed circumstances,” said Simeonides.

Most people do not realise that there are some very cost-effective insurance solutions available that can cover these unforeseen costs. “If you really want to protect your legacy and make sure those whom you leave behind are cared for, you need to have a valid Will and clear plan for how they will cover the costs beyond the funeral,” Simeonides concluded.

*Alex Simeonides, chief executive officer of Capital Legacy.

Contact our offices for assistance with drawing up your Will or any deceased Estates by emailing

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