Answer to a question from a reader

Who can claim from the estate of a deceased miner who was unmarried but had a minor child?

The short answer

If he did not leave a will, his child will inherit his estate when they turn 18. In the meantime, it will be kept in the Guardians Fund.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My son died in a mining accident in 2020. He had a 9-month-old baby with a woman to whom he was not married and did not have a good relationship at the time of his death. He nominated his mother as his beneficiary. Who is meant to get the letter of authority? And who should claim from the Tshiamiso Trust?

The long answer

The claim from the Tshiamiso Trust and the letter of authority are two separate things.

In terms of the Tshiaimiso Trust: “The dependant (wife, partner or child) of such gold mineworkers who has passed away can apply for compensation.”

So, even if your son was not married to the mother of his baby, and their relationship was not good when he died, the baby’s mother would still be in line to apply.

As the Tshiamiso Trust was set up to compensate miners (or their dependants, if they are no longer alive) for the diseases of silicosis or TB, the Trust will inform the mother if she has a potentially valid claim. 

This is the first step in laying a claim:

  • Call the call centre:

    • a. Inside South Africa 080 1000 240

    • b. Outside of South Africa 00 27 10 500 6186

If the person has a valid claim, they will be guided to the next step.

If you are a dependant of a deceased mineworker you will need:

  • Your valid SA ID document or SADC passport

  • SA ID document or SADC passport of the deceased mineworker

  • Service records from the mines that the deceased mineworker worked at

  • The deceased mineworker’s death certificate and, if available, an autopsy report

  • Any available medical records of the deceased mineworker

In terms of the Letter of Authority: It is issued by the Master of the High Court to the person who has been nominated to administer the deceased person’s estate when the death has been reported. 

If you are nominated by the family to receive the letter of authority, you will have the right and duty to administer your son’s estate. That means paying all the debts and seeing that all the rightful heirs are identified to distribute the assets fairly and correctly. As you know, the letter of authority does not give the representative the right to enjoy the benefits of the estate personally.

The letter of authority (J170) must be obtained from the Office of the Master of the High Court or a Magistrates Court and can take up to 120 days to be issued. It is usually valid for up to 12 months. The person who is nominated to be the representative receives the letter of authority in terms of Section 18(3) of the Administration of Estates Act. 

The following reporting documents are required (these forms are available online at

  • Completed death notice (form J294)

  • Original or certified copy of the death certificate

  • Original or certified copy of a marriage certificate (if applicable)

  • All original wills or documents intended as such (if any)

  • Next-of-kin affidavit if the deceased did not leave a valid will (form J192)

  • Completed inventory form (form J243)

  • List of creditors of deceased (if applicable)

  • Nominations by the heirs for the appointment of a Master’s representative in the case of an intestate estate or where no executor has been nominated in the will or the nominated executor declines the appointment.

  • Undertaking and acceptance of Master’s directions (form J155)

  • Declaration confirming that the estate has not already been reported to another Master’s Office or Magistrates Court.

When a person dies, their bank accounts are frozen to prevent theft and fraud. The representative must open a new bank account in the name of “Estate of Late Mr X” so that your son’s bank account is closed and the bank must transfer the money to the new “Estate Late Mr X” bank account. The representative will need to provide the bank with the following documents:

  • Death Certificate

  • Deceased’s ID

  • Letter of authority 

  • Appointed representative’s ID

If you need further advice, you can contact Legal Aid, which is a means-tested government organisation that must help people who can’t afford a lawyer:

Legal Aid Advice Line (Toll-free): 0800 110 110

Legal Aid Ethics Hotline: 0800 153 728

Please-Call-Me number: 079 835 7179


Wishing you the best,

Answered on July 21, 2022, 4:50 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.