CHAOS AT THE MASTER’S OFFICE
Reghardt Draper, BVSA Konsult
Before Covid-19 irrevocably changed the world we live in, one could compare the Master’s office with a rusty bicycle with flat tyres. Slow, little to no response, and on the brink of collapse. The service surely wasn’t something to write home about, but with the right amount of elbow grease, blood, sweat, constant begging and tears, the work eventually got done. After Covid-19 made its way into our courts, the service at the Master’s office dropped to an all-time low: the Master’s office can now be compared to a bicycle without wheels – totally inoperable.
When a South African citizen dies, the estate needs to be reported to one of the fifteen Master’s offices in the country. As soon as the institutions (such as banks, insurance companies, etc.) get word of the deceased’s passing almost everything comes to a standstill. Dependants and family members cannot access any funds until the estate has been settled and are therefore at risk of being left without any money. It is therefore absolutely essential for the Master’s office to function quickly and effectively to ensure that no one gets stuck in a never-ending judicial administrative process. Sadly, this is currently not the case. E-mails and telephone calls to the Master’s office are simply ignored and formal complaints receive no attention.
In addition to the above, the Government Gazette also came to an abrupt standstill after some technical difficulties. Every estate is required by law to be advertised in the Government Gazette and a local newspaper in the area where the deceased resided. This must be done twice before the estate can be settled. Without the Government Gazette being published, nothing can be advertised and this causes further delays in the estate administration process.
From the above it is evident that we are living in uncertain times and that the functioning of the Master’s office needs serious attention, especially with regard to the backlogs that are shooting through the roof. Hopefully the Master will consider the suggestions raised by legal and fiduciary practitioners to rather make use of electronic platforms to send and receive documents. This will speed things up significantly and reduce the risk of files getting lost.
Our fiduciary team at BVSA Konsult has years of experience in estate administration and is professionally equipped to assist you with any related matters. Please contact any of our fiduciary/financial practitioners/advisors for a quote and expert advice.
Reghardt Draper FPSA®
Adv Dip ETA (UFS), LLB, LLM (NWU), PG Dip FP