Simphiwe’s deceased estate transfer: Case timelines and key milestones

A standard question we get at the TSC is: How long does it take you to resolve a case? Our standard answer is: “it depends on the case”. Various factors contribute to the duration of a case, including its complexity, the length of time required for administrative processes such as those managed by the Masters Office, and the responsiveness of our clients, including the speed at which they and other parties involved can sign necessary documents.  

To illustrate this, we’ve mapped out the timeline and key milestones for a deceased estate transfer case that the TSC has recently resolved. You can read the background to Simphiwe’s case here.

The case initially seems to be a straightforward deceased estate transfer of one property. It turned into a significantly more complicated case as the estate actually included two properties. 

Simphiwe, the client who approached the TSC for assistance, did not mention the second property. He did not consider it to be his – his niece was living in the property and he regarded the property as belonging to her. 

Once the conveyancers established that the deceased owned a second property, the TSC had to re-start the reporting process at the Masters Office. This property would be included in the estate and transferred to the client. He would then donate the second property to his niece. 

This particular case was on the TSC’s books for almost 21 months, with almost eight months of that waiting on information from the Masters Office in order to proceed. 

High-level illustrative summary of case

Ending a 20-year battle to get a title deed

Simphiwe is looking forward to building a formal subsidy house through the People’s Housing Process (PHP) after the Tenure Support Center (TSC) helped him get a title deed for his property in Site B, Khayelitsha.

“I’m waiting for the PHP chairperson to ask me to dismantle my shack to make way for an RDP house,” he said.

Simphiwe lives off his disability grant after a car accident in Langeberg near Koeberg left him unable to work. He stays with his wife in a dilapidated shack that is prone to leaking and becomes uncomfortably cold during the winter months. His property used to belong to his mother who was allocated a serviced site. She received the title deed for the land from Government in 1999, just a few months before she passed away.

“To register with the PHP, I was required to produce a title deed first. Housing officials said I could not apply for an RDP house while the property was still registered in my mother’s name. They advised me to consult lawyers,” Simphiwe described.

Simphiwe, being his mother’s only surviving heir, was entitled to take transfer of the property following her death, but he struggled to do so due to the costs involved. However, thanks to the help he received from the TSC, Simphiwe recently took transfer of the property.

“No one could help me until I met a PHP chairperson who introduced me to the TSC,” Simphiwe said.

He first went to lawyers in Plein Street in Cape Town to ask them to register his mother’s property in his name. They told him he must pay R3 000 first and then R5 000 at a later stage. Simphiwe simply could not afford that amount. 

“I could not give them my whole disability grant, otherwise I would be left without money for food. They said they could not help me if I could not afford to pay them,”  Simphiwe told us.

Another lawyer said he would have to pay R13 000 for the transfer. ”When I asked him if he didn’t give a discount to people with disabilities, he said no.”

Simphiwe did not have to pay to get his title deed through the TSC; the TSC provided access to free legal services through its partner STBB. Because Simphiwe is indigent, the TSC paid for out of pocket expenses of R1 300. 

Simphiwe described his joy when he eventually received transfer of the property through the TSC. “I went down on my knees and thanked God for what He did for me. I feel happy because my life will change. I will move out of my shack and stay in an RDP house in the near future.”

“I battled a lot to get the title deed. When I finally got it, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

He is pleased with the way TSC staff handled his title deed issue from start to finish, he said. “I’m already recommending TSC to other residents who are looking for title deeds.”