An estate can arise due to various circumstances. In the context of natural persons, it consists of a deceased estate and/or an insolvent estate as a result of sequestration. In the context of a company or close corporation that is declared insolvent, liquidation takes place.

An individual, company or close corporation is declared insolvent when their liabilities exceed their assets. Depending on the circumstances, a debtor (that is, the insolvent) may apply for a voluntary surrender or a creditor may make a compulsory application to the court.

The various estates are briefly discussed below.

Deceased Estates 

When a natural person (taxpayer) dies, that person is called a ‘deceased person’ and all his or her assets on the date of death will be placed in an estate. This estate is called an estate of a deceased person (commonly known as a ‘deceased estate’). Assets in a deceased estate can amongst other things include immovable property and movable property, cash in the bank, etc. The person who administers a deceased estate is called an ‘Executor’. Once the Executor has finalised all the administration in the deceased estate, the remaining assets (after paying all the debts) will be distributed to the beneficiaries.

For more information on deceased estates and the impact of income tax and estate duty thereon, refer to the Estate Duty webpage.

Insolvent Estates

Individuals that are declared insolvent are sequestrated and dealt with under the provisions of the Insolvency Act, 24 of 1936. The effect of sequestration is that the insolvent person is divested of his or her estate which is vested in the Master until a trustee has been appointed, and, upon the appointment of a trustee, the estate vests in the trustee.

When a natural person becomes insolvent, a possibility of dealing with three taxpayers might arise:
  • the insolvent person for the period before sequestration (taxpayer 1)
  • the insolvent estate (taxpayer 2)
  • the insolvent person for the period after sequestration (taxpayer 3).
The effect of insolvency from an income tax point of view is to terminate the tax status of the insolvent person before sequestration and to substitute it with a new taxpayer from the date of sequestration, that is, the insolvent person after sequestration. In addition, the natural person (insolvent person after sequestration) receives a new taxpayer identity from the date of sequestration. The insolvent estate is registered as a separate tax entity and a new income tax reference number is allocated to it. The insolvent estate will come into being only if there are capital gains and losses that must be accounted for in case where assets are disposed to third parties. A separate tax return must be submitted for each of the periods identified above.

A deceased estate can also become insolvent and is dealt with under section 34 of the Administration of Estate Act, 1965. 

For more information on insolvent estates refer to the Personal Income Tax Insolvency webpage.

More detailed information will in due course be made available in respect of insolvent estates.


A corporate body, company or other body of persons that is regulated by the Companies Act, 71 of 2008 and cannot be sequestrated in terms of the provisions of the Insolvency Act, but is liquidated (wound up) according to the provisions of the Companies Act.

Liquidation is a legal process that arises when a company or close corporation is divested of its legal status and is liquidated (wound up). The effect is that the company or close corporation’s assets are realised and distributed whereafter the existence of the legal person is brought to an end (deregistration). A company cannot be rehabilitated after its liquidation as its legal existence ceases after its deregistration. The Insolvency Act may find application to the extent that is applicable and in respect of any matter not provided for in the Companies Act. 

More detailed information will in due course be made available in respect of the liquidation of companies or close corporations.

How do I get the process started to make SARS aware of an estate?

There are two options at this stage to report a new Estate Case to SARS:
In order to report a new Estate Case to SARS, it is important that the correct Supporting Documentation be submitted to SARS. Refer to our FAQ on what is required to report the new Estate to SARS.

How do I change banking details?


Last Updated: 13/10/2020 7:57 AM     print this page
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 Top FAQs

What supporting documents must I submit to report a new Estate Case?
In order to report a new Estate Case to SARS, it is important that you submit the correct Supporting Documentation: 1. An image of yourself holding your proof of identity.