Answer to a question from a reader

Can I use my grandfather's will (in which he left his estate to his sons) to transfer the title deed into my name?

The short answer

You can get a copy of the title deed from the Deeds Office and have it transferred to your name by a conveyancing attorney.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

Our late grandfather had a small farm that he left to his two sons in his will. They never had a title deed made, so how do we as their children get a title deed for the farm now that they have also passed on?

The long answer

Did your grandfather have a title deed for the small farm before he willed it to his sons? Do you have it? If it has been lost, or if you are not sure if there was ever a title deed, you could go to the nearest Deeds Office and find out. The Deeds Office is under the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. You would need to take the erf number of the farm and your grandfather’s full name and ID if possible, so they could check. They would charge R17 for this search and if there is a title deed, they will give you a copy.

To transfer the farm into your names, the deaths of your grandfather and your fathers would need to have been reported to the Master of the High Court in the area where the property is situated. To report the deaths, you would need certified copies of the death certificates and copies of your grandfather’s and your fathers’ wills, if they made wills. When a death is reported, a deceased estate comes into being.

The master will appoint a Representative with a Letter of Authority if the farm is worth less than R250,000, or an Executor if it is worth more than R250,000. If there was no will made by your fathers, you children can nominate a person to be the Representative or the Executor of the deceased estate. It is a far simpler process to deal with a deceased estate with a representative than it is with an executor.

The representative/executor must see that all the debts of the deceased estate are paid before the heirs (you children) can receive your legacy. The representative/executor must deal with the estate under the directions of the Master. The representative/executor must appoint a conveyancing attorney (a lawyer who will handle all the business involved in the transfer of the property to your names in the Deeds Office). This is required by law.

You would have to pay transfer costs to the conveyancing attorney. 

You could ask an organisation like the Black Sash, which gives free paralegal advice, to assist you. You could also ask legal Aid, which is a means-tested organisation that must assist people who cannot afford a lawyer, to assist you.

Here are their contact details: 

  • The Black Sash

Email: help@blacksash.org.za

Helpline: 072 633 3739 or 063 610 1865.

  • Legal Aid

Email: communications2@legal-aid.co.za

Tel: 0800 110 110 (Monday to Friday 7AM - 7PM) 

Please call me: 079 835 7179 

Wishing you the best,
Athalie

Answered on May 15, 2024, 1:06 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.