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Tag: Sorting A Deceased Parent’s Belongings

What does it mean if the death certificate says “unnatural causes” – specific to reporting the estate

If the death certificate says “unnatural causes”, it means that the person died due to something other than natural causes. This has several implications for reporting the estate of the deceased, especially if the death occurred in South Africa.

One of the most important implications is that the death must be reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) within 72 hours. The SAPS will then investigate the circumstances and manner of death and collect any evidence from the scene. The SAPS will also arrange for the removal of the body to a state mortuary for a post-mortem examination. A post-mortem examination is “a scientific and objective procedure that involves the systematic examination of the body tissues and organs by a pathologist”. The purpose of the post-mortem examination is to determine the exact cause of death and to provide a medical report that can be used for legal or administrative purposes. The post-mortem examination is required by South African law for all unnatural deaths and cannot be refused by the next of kin. The post-mortem examination may also reveal information that is relevant for reporting and administering the estate of the deceased, such as:

  • The identity of the deceased, if unknown or disputed
  • The date and time of death, if uncertain or disputed
  • The nature and extent of any injuries or diseases that affected the deceased
  • The presence of any substances or toxins in the body that may have contributed to or caused the death
  • The existence of any genetic or hereditary conditions that may affect the heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased

When a person dies, the cause of death is recorded on a death certificate by a medical practitioner or a traditional leader. The cause of death can be classified as natural or unnatural. Natural causes are those that result from disease or old age, while unnatural causes are those that result from external factors such as accidents, violence, poisoning, or suicide, and could also include any of the following:

  • Road traffic collisions involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, or animals
  • Falls from heights, stairs, ladders, roofs, or windows
  • Drowning in pools, rivers, dams, or oceans
  • Fires or explosions in homes, workplaces, or public places
  • Electrocution by faulty wiring, appliances, or lightning
  • Poisoning by drugs, alcohol, chemicals, or plants
  • Animal attacks by dogs, snakes, bees, or wild animals
  • Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, or storms

If you do not specify that the death certificate says “unnatural causes” when reporting the estate to the Master of the High Court, you may encounter some problems or delays in finalising the estate. For example:

  • You may not have access to the medical report from the post-mortem examination, which may contain vital information for administering the estate
  • You may not be able to obtain a letter of executorship or authority from the Master until the SAPS has completed its investigation and issued a clearance certificate
  • You may not be able to claim any benefits or compensation from insurance policies, pension funds, or other sources that depend on the cause of death
  • You may face legal challenges or disputes from creditors, beneficiaries, or other parties who have an interest in the estate

To avoid these problems or delays, an unnatural death should be reported as soon as possible and all the relevant documents and information must be provided to the Master of the High Court without avail. You should also consult with a professional legal service that specialises in estate administration and planning, such as AED Attorneys.

How can AED Attorneys help you?

Reporting an unnatural death estate can be a complex and stressful process. If you are a new owner of a property that belonged to someone who died due to unnatural causes, you may face some challenges in reporting and administering their estate. You may also encounter some emotional distress and trauma as a result of their death.

AED Attorneys can help you with:

  • Reporting an unnatural death estate to the Master of the High Court and the SAPS
  • Obtaining a letter of executorship or authority from the Master
  • Claiming any benefits or compensation from insurance policies, pension funds, or other sources
  • Dealing with any legal challenges or disputes from creditors, beneficiaries, or other parties
  • Finalising and distributing the estate in accordance with the law and the wishes of the deceased

An unnatural death can complicate your inheritance or ownership of a property. AED Attorneys understands these implications, tax and financial consequences and other considerations. We have experience of the emotional and psychological impact, and offer the legal support that is essential in the event of an unnatural death estate.

AED Attorneys understands that every situation is unique, and although they strive to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate at the time of publishing, it cannot be guaranteed to be without errors or omissions. As a result, AED Attorneys, its employees, independent contractors, associates or third parties will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions in this article, which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.

What will happen with my Cryptocurrency when I die?

There are more than 800 cryptocurrencies that you can use to make purchases online, send money to friends and family, or get paid for your work. But what happens to your wallet when you pass away?

As cryptocurrency grows in popularity, you need to make sure you bring these into your estate planning, make a trusted person aware of the fact that you own such currency, and how to find they can find it. After your death the fate of your cryptocurrencies will depend on several factors, such as whether you have made provisions for their transfer or disposal in your will or other legal documents. In South Africa, cryptocurrencies are not yet explicitly regulated, and there is no specific legislation governing the inheritance of cryptocurrencies. However, cryptocurrencies can be considered assets or property, and their distribution can be governed by South Africa’s laws of succession.

The executor of your estate will also be responsible for managing and distributing cryptocurrencies according to your will. If you have not made any specific provisions, your cryptocurrencies may be treated as part of your estate and distributed according to the laws of succession. It is best to make provisions for the transfer or disposal of your cryptocurrencies in your will or other legal documents to ensure that they are handled in accordance with your wishes. You need to ensure that your bitcoin is identifiable and accessible for your executor and beneficiaries. The ‘keys’ are crucial for transferring ownership or spending your bitcoin. It is therefore important that the keys need to be protected and practically dealt with by your executor. If a key is lost or no longer accessible, then, in essence, you will have lost your bitcoin. You may want to consider storing your private keys and other relevant information in a secure location and informing your beneficiaries of their existence to facilitate the transfer of your cryptocurrencies.

If you have inherited cryptocurrency from someone, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that you have control over the assets and that they are secure:

  • Familiarise yourself with cryptocurrency: If you’re not familiar with cryptocurrency, it’s essential to educate yourself on the technology and how it works. You can start by researching the specific type of cryptocurrency you inherited, how it’s stored, and how it’s traded. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that creates a new way to pay and receive money, using encryption techniques to regulate and verify the transfer of funds. Encryption aims to provide security and safety, by implementing cryptographic methods that involve the solving of complex mathematical problems and stored in digital wallets. You save virtual coins in your digital wallet, on your phone or computer. This also makes it easy to transfer money anywhere in the world because there are “no borders between countries” where cryptocurrencies are concerned. The first decentralised cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, and was soon followed by many other cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin, Ethereum, Monero, and Zcash.
  • Secure your cryptocurrency: Once you understand how the cryptocurrency works, you should ensure that it’s secure. You can do this by setting up a secure wallet, which is a digital storage system for your cryptocurrency. Make sure to keep your private keys safe, and never share them with anyone.
  • Determine the value of your cryptocurrency: To understand the value of your cryptocurrency, you can check online exchanges or consult with a financial advisor. You should also be aware of any tax implications associated with your inherited cryptocurrency.
  • Decide what to do with your cryptocurrency: You can hold onto the cryptocurrency as an investment, trade it for another cryptocurrency or traditional currency, or use it to make purchases.
  • If your financial advisor was not aware of this when assisting you with your estate planning and the drafting of your will, it could increase the cost of executors’ fees and estate duty. This could also impact negatively on any liquidity calculations performed during the estate planning process. Because of the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, it could be difficult for your executor to trace your holdings and properly account for them unless you have ensured that your executor and/or family members are aware of your holdings and how to access them. Backing up your wallet on an external hard drive and transcribing all access details for the wallet is a practical option to ensure that your executor and loved ones have access of your cryptocurrency.

Get in touch with AED Attorneys to explain the legalities with you, and to make sure that you update your will to include your cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency will be assets in your estate and can be dealt with to an extent in your will.

AED Attorneys understands that every situation is unique, and although they strive to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate at the time of publishing, it cannot be guaranteed to be without errors or omissions. As a result, AED Attorneys, its employees, independent contractors, associates or third parties will under no circumstances accept liability or be held liable for any innocent or negligent actions or omissions in this article, which may result in any harm or liability flowing from the use of or the inability to use the information provided.

Clearing A Parent’s Home After Their Death Ou – The Practical And Emotional Aspects

Clearing out your parent’s home after their death is both emotionally and physically taxing. Within a short space of time, you are required to consolidate a very dear person’s life, while grief is still deeply rooted in your heart. Memories will intrude as you walk from room to room in their home and see walls and corners filled with their belongings, bringing them to life again. The thought of giving their things away and removing their presence seems so disrespectful and irreverent. You have a longing to leave everything the same in a time capsule that can reflect their very last essence.

Just as you wondered how you would possibly cope in a world without them, so too it seems impossible that you would ever be able to do away with any of their belongings. You want to hold onto everything of theirs forever. Unfortunately, you cannot.

So how do you start the cleaning-out process with tight deadlines to meet and a long to-do list? The answer is one step at a time, and then one day at a time.

Secure the Property

You may not be able to immediately clean out the house after your parent’s passing, so you will need to ensure that the property is secured or make contact with their landlord, if they have been renting, to make the necessary arrangements.

Assess and List Your Priorities

You will first need to make a realistic assessment of how big the “clean-out” is going to be. This will entail differentiating between essential tasks that need to be taken care of immediately and then the less critical tasks. Making a list of the priorities and their timeframes will put you more in control of a seemingly impossible situation. Having a Sonja Smith Life File at hand, will ease the burden. Download the Index here.

Some of the items on your list to consider are:

  • Financial: Recent bank statements, account statements, medical bills, SARS
  • Policies: Insurance, Will, shares, investments, annuities, pension, medical
  • Documents: ID, passport, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, death certificate, firearms
  • Home: Insurance, title deeds, bond statements
  • Car: Insurance, vehicle licence
  • Pets: Finding a new home for them
  • House contents: dispersal and disposal of belongings

Don’t Do It Alone

During this time, you need to lean on your support system, especially in the first few weeks. Don’t close yourself off to everyone. People care and want to help you. Divide your list of priorities and task different people within your support system with various tasks.

Time Frames

You will need to determine how long each task will take before your parent’s home is cleared. This may be overwhelming in the beginning as you will uncover items that bring back so many memories of the person whom you have lost. Remember to take breaks as you need them to avoid an emotional overload.

Sorting A Deceased Parent’s Belongings

This has to be one of the most challenging and emotional aspects of tying up a loved one’s estate. People can take weeks, months or even years before they are able to face this significant task.

When you do finally feel ready, the most important thing is to remain organised and methodical by sorting items as follows:

  • What items will I keep?
  • What items will others want?
  • What items will be donated?
  • What items can be recycled?
  • What items can be sold?
  • What items can be thrown away?

Where to Start

The easiest is to start with one room at a time and to move around the room from your left until you have finished. You can then move on to the next room similarly. Preferably start with rooms that may not be so emotionally hard to deal with, depending on your level of grief at the time.

Remember that you will need ease of access, so make sure that the boxes are packed and stored clear of doorways. Use coloured labels or stickers to separate the items and be realistic about the things you separate in terms of their usefulness or sentimentality. If nobody is going to wear the clothes or read the books, then rather donate them to a charity in need.

For those hard to part with items, remember that you can always take photos of them and create a memory book afterwards. If it all gets too much for you, your loved one’s belongings can be separated and put into boxes for a later stage, when you are feeling stronger.

Making the Clearing Out a Little Easier

Before you start clearing out each day, bring yourself some drinks and snacks and make sure that there is soap, toilet paper and towels available for the cleaning up. Open the curtains and windows to let in some fresh air and light. Turn on the radio to break the silence.

At the end of each day of your sorting, throw away the rubbish and take the donated items to charity immediately. Try not to work yourself until the point of exhaustion and when you go home, remind yourself that you are one day further than you were the previous day.

Absent Family During the Clearing Out

If there is a family member who cannot be present during the sorting, make sure that you ask them if there is anything specific that they want to keep as you may not realise how much sentimental value something may have for someone else.

Be Patient with Yourself

Clearing out a deceased parent’s house is not an easy process. You will need to allow yourself time and acknowledge that you will feel a lot of emotions during the process. Once you have finalised your task list, you will need to establish the time limit for each task.

It helps to keep these goals as small as possible so that you can cope emotionally. Giving yourself these goals will also allow you to see the results during this emotionally draining process and ensure that you set boundaries for yourself.

Lastly, remember that surrounding yourself with people who love and support you, will bring shared memories, some tears and some laughter.

You can rely on Sonja Smith Funeral Group to handle the arrangements for a parent’s funeral, cremation and/or memorial service with efficiency and empathy, ensuring that the final farewell is arranged with care and attention to detail.  The branch closest to you can be found here.