How long does it take to dematerialise and sell shares when winding up an estate?

It can take several months since the share certificates will be in a holding position while the various processes associated with winding up an estate unfold.

FNB is the executor of an estate and was given original share certificates (local SA shares; Sasol, FirstRand and so on) and has taken nine months to dematerialise and sell them. They tell me this is normal. How long should it take to dematerialise and sell shares, as I believe this is not a long process?

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Dear reader,

Thank you for your question.

Your question is about share certificates that were handed in to the executors of an estate and the dematerialisation and sale of the shares has taken nine months.

Dematerialisation refers to the process whereby paper share certificates are replaced with electronic records of ownership. The certificates, once handed in by investors, are sent to the relevant transfer secretary for validation. Once the authenticity of the certificate has been verified, the actual dematerialisation process begins. For all intents and purposes, once you have submitted your share certificate for dematerialisation, it ceases to exist. Shares cannot be sold unless they have been dematerialised.

It is not unusual for dematerialisation within an estate to take several months.

The reasons for this will be found in the procedures associated with managing a deceased estate.

What is involved

Firstly, all the necessary documents must be handed to the executor that was named in the will of the deceased.

Once the executor has all the documents necessary to apply for their appointment as executor, they can apply to the Master of the High Court to be appointed as the executor. This process can take a while, especially since the country has been in the grip of Covid-19. In normal circumstances, it takes approximately a month and currently, it takes longer because of the delays caused by Covid-19.

Once the executor is appointed, they must advertise the death in two local newspapers and the Government Gazette. Creditors then have 30 days to let the executor know about their claims against the estate. The executor must also contact the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to confirm if any taxes are outstanding, and must get valuations of all the assets.

Once they have collected all this information, they can compile the liquidation and distribution account of the deceased.

Once the liquidation and distribution account is complete, the executor can present it to the Master of the High Court for approval. These steps must be taken within six months. And then you have to wait for the Master to approve the account.

Only once the liquidation and distribution account has been approved can the executor start with the dematerialisation process.

While this is not a lengthy process it has always required original documents, and the fact that many employees have had to work from home because of Covid-19 has complicated matters.

Other ways had to be found to authenticate the original documents – and therein lies the delay.

An interesting point to note …

In the period between death and the appointment of an executor, you are really in no-man’s land, because nobody can act on your behalf and nobody can do anything with your assets during that period.

Once an executor is appointed that changes slightly. The executor would be a part of the will, and would then do as per the instructions within the will. In a will you could say “sell my Shoprite shares, give the cash to my wife” or “give my wife the Shoprite shares”, or you could say nothing.

The general principle is that an executor passes over assets to beneficiaries unless they must realise them to pay creditors.

To answer your question then, the shares or share certificates are in a holding position for the six to nine months that the above process of the estate takes.

And only then can the executor dematerialise your shares and sell them, if that is the instruction in the will. In my opinion, it did not take long at all.

I hope this answer gives you more clarity on the dematerialisation and sale of the shares.

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The writer should really read the question correctly. FNB is already the appointed executor no need to ramble on about the general procedure. To answer the question correctly. No the process is taking too long.


Nedbank is terrible. To get a Tax Clearance Certificate has taken 9 months so far. It has nothing to do with SARS it is Nedbank.

Take your stuff away from banks and ensure you appoint a family member as co-executor.

I my case shares were liquidated very early on and took a few day’s. The money then goes to the estate late account.

These banks are absolutely useless and all use covid as excuse. Might be best to appoint a specialist or attorney?? Banks and insurance companies forget.

Old Mutual says they do estates. They lie they don’t. Nedbank does theirs’s. Why you might ask? Only to get your business to them as you might have used your own bank have you known you would end up with useless Nedbank.

Be careful. These banks are sharks. ALL OF THEM!!!!

No, don’t appoint a family member as co-executor. Appoint only the major beneficiary(ies) as executors – they are the only ones with an interest in the estate so let them be able to choose an agent of their choice if they are unable to do the actual work.


So FNB Fiduciary will convince you to keep your Will with them…….
….they cream you with their monthly bank account fees (insane fees if you ask me)

… when you kick the bucket…. that Will that you kept with them …. then earns some substantial cash based on your NAV (Net asset Value)…. they take a % percentage of that NAV….


I wonder what would be the process in the case of fractional shares bought via these new platforms such as Easy Equities and the like.
(also side note: noone could be worse than Standard Bank as an executor).

This article answered a few questions. Length of time and shares. My late hubby’s simple estate was done by Standard Bank April 2019 before covid it has turned out to be a fiasco, and would never recommend Standard Bank as estate officers. LINK shares to be divided between myself and our son was not done correctly and needless to say the shares were never transfered into our names and according to Standard Estate Division it is not there duty to check if LINK transfered these shares and they are now demanding bank charges for a dividend payout because the estate was closed by the Master Dec 19 and payout came after the closing AND TRANSFER NEVER DONE and they have had to reopen the file. So whose fault is that and why should the beneficiaries have to pay for their botched never checked transfer. (Actually have a letter from LINK to the estate officer telling them there was a problem and apparently they did nothing) Told to us by a Standard Bank senior estates officer it takes 4 to 6 months for LINK to transfer shares, which I see from this article is utter nonsense. LINK finally paid the dividend on 15 July 21 over two years later to Standard Estate and we are still waiting. This is outrageous and so much for the experts and professionals Standard claim to have. But who will fight for the rights of the beneficiaries not to be taken advantage of by a bank as they drag this payout to claim more and more bank charges. Seriously it is NOT RIGHT and there should be someone to put a stop to this.

Finally an ending to my saga…… was given advice to report my matter to the Fiduciary Institution of South Africa and 123 problem solved. It is unacceptable behavior from the bank and one should never have to go to this extreme. But as most folk just give up, these big institutions get away with BAD SERVICE. There is little integrity left and the simple man in the street get fleeced at every turn and it is so VERY WRONG. Glad that there is one ombudsman section that is on the ball.

I have NEVER. Not ONCE heard of an estate that was done properly and quickly by a bank. If somebody knows of one please let us know.


End of comments.



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