It is becoming increasingly common for persons to buy deceased estate asset in Zimbabwe today. When dealing with a deceased estate it is important to ensure that all the necessary processes have been followed to avoid any complication which could result in the loss of money and or delay transfer of the property.
The first important step is in ensuring the deceased estate is registered and you are dealing with the duly appointed executor and not merely a beneficiary of the estate. It is critical the parties verify the appointment of the executor as any sale agreements entered into with anyone other than the duly appointed executor is invalid as it is only the executor who is able to represent an estate in terms of the Administration of Estate Act. In some instances beneficiaries have taken it upon themselves to sell estate assets without the knowledge of the Executor, some even going as far as purporting to be the appointed executor. It becomes critical as a starting point that when dealing with a deceased estate a purchaser must confirm that they are dealing with the Executor and this may be ascertained by letters of administration issued in their name which can be verified by the master. Where an estate has two executors it is required that both executors are made party to the agreement of sale.
The secondary requirement is that a purchaser must ensure that consent to sale has been issued by the Master in terms of section 120 of The Administration of Estates Act which provides “ persons interested in the estate to sell any property belonging to such estate otherwise than by public auction he may, if the will of the deceased contains no provisions to the contrary, grant the necessary authority to the executor so to act.”. It is also wise where possible to require the Executor to obtain consent to sell from other interest parties particularly beneficiaries where possible to avoid having the sale disputed. Section 123 of the Administration of Estate’s act states “In cases where minor heirs are interested in property inherited from the estate of any deceased person the Master may apply through the chamber book to a judge in chambers for authority for the lease, mortgage, sale or other disposition of such property, and the judge may make such order as in the circumstances he considers advisable”.
Where title is co-owned by the deceased and another person, the consent of that person is required especially if what is being sold is a subdivision of land as the Registrar of Deeds will still require the co-owner’s consent by way of a power of Attorney.
Before signing an Agreement of sale, speak to a conveyancer to advise you accordingly especially if it is a speciated sale such as a sale of immovable property out of a deceased estate and avoid making payments before verifications.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.