Where the spouse who has deceased made donations to the surviving spouse in terms of the ante-nuptial contract, these assets (or replacement assets) must be delivered to the surviving spouse before the estate is distributed in terms of the will. On the other hand, if the deceased spouse made donations to the surviving spouse, the estate may have a claim against the survivor.
After a divorce, the former spouses have three months during which to amend their wills. Should one of them pass away after that period has elapsed and without amending their will, the former spouse will inherit.
Where the deceased had signed surety during his/her lifetime and that surety remains valid at death, the executor of the estate may first need to find substitute sureties to free the estate of its obligations before the estate can be wound up.
Minor children have a common law right to claim maintenance against a parent's estate and a surviving spouse also has a claim for maintenance in terms of the Maintenance of Surviving Spouse's Act and these claims need to be satisfied before any benefits may flow to beneficiaries from the estate.
Descendants who are heirs and who benefitted from certain kinds of gifts from the deceased are obliged by law to account to the estate for the purposes of distribution. However, a clause can be included in the will stating that heirs are not required to collate donations.