Frequently Asked Questions

Customer Care Enquiries: chiefmaster@justice.gov.za , Tel: 012-315 1207, Fax: 086 5444 893


  1. How do I obtain information on a Trust (such as names of Trustees etc)?
  2. The deceased did not leave any assets Ė should the estate still be reported at the Master?
  3. How do I de-register / terminate a trust?
  4. Can the Master of the High Court provide me with a copy of my Divorce order, or any other information relating thereto?
  5. My dad is deceased and we need to get a letter from the Master of the High Court. How do we go about getting a Letter of Executorship?
  6. What are the duties of the Masterís Representative / Executor?
  7. To what fee is the executor entitled?
  8. I can not find the original will of the deceased Ė will a certified copy be sufficient?
  9. My childís inheritance has been deposited into the Guardianís Fund Ė how do they administer these funds?
  10. How do I apply for my childís school fees to be paid out of his available funds in the Guardianís Fund?
  11. How do I apply for a copy of a document which is in the Masterís File?
  12. Can an estate be reported electronically with the Master?
  13. I need to know what the balance of my childís funds in the Guardianís Fund is.
  14. Can I fax my application for funds from the Guardianís Fund, or send it electronically?
  15. I have applied for the final payment of my inheritance from the Guardianís Fund, why should I attach my fingerprints and what are they used for?
  16. What is the interest rate of the Guardianís Fund?
  17. Method of payment of fees charged by the Master
  18. Tariffs of Master's fees PDF
  19. Accessing the Guardian’s Fund

1. How do I obtain information on a Trust (such as names of Trustees etc)?

You should please apply in writing to the Office where the Trust has been registered, providing reasons why this information is needed. The Master will then request the input of the Trustees and beneficiaries, after which he/she will exercise his discretion in providing you with the information / not. Should the Master refuse to provide you with this information, you will need to apply to the Informationís Officer of the Department of Justice.

2. The deceased did not leave any assets Ė should the estate still be reported at the Master?

In terms of the Administration of Estates Act 66 of 1965, an estate should only be reported to the Master if the deceased left assets and/or a will. If the deceased did not leave any of the above, there are no duty on you to register the estate with the relevant Master / Magistrate.

3. How do I de-register / terminate a trust?

The Trust Property Control Act makes no provision for the deregistration of a trust. Deregistration is an internal administrative action to facilitate the management of trust files in the Masters office.

The common law however makes provision for the termination of a trust by operation of law in the following circumstances, by statute, fulfillment of the object of the trust, failure of the beneficiary, renunciation or repudiation by the beneficiary, destruction of the trust property, or the operation of a resolutive condition. See Honoreís South African Law of Trusts 5th edition paragraph 343.

If a trust can be terminated on one of the above grounds then the Master will deregister a trust. For the termination of a trust the following documents are required:

  • A -The original letter of authority;
  • B - Bank statements reflecting a nil balance on the final statement;
  • C - Proof that the beneficiaries have received their benefits.

    Note the "Letter of Authority - J170" must be obtained from the Office of the Master

Upon receipt of the above documents the Master will deregister a trust which has been terminated. Please note that the above documents must be lodged with the Master with whom the Trust has been registered.top

4. Can the Master of the High Court provide me with a copy of my Divorce order, or any other information relating thereto?

No, the Master does not deal with Divorce matters. You can contact the Registrar of the High Court where the Divorce Order was granted, in this regard. Follow this link to view the contact detaisl for The Registrars of the High Courts.

5. My dad is deceased and we need to get a letter from the Master of the High Court. How do we go about getting a Letter of Executorship?

1.††††Death of a person

  • the estate must be reported by an interested party to Masterís Office in which jurisdiction the deceased normally lived, within 14 days.
  • if the value of the assets are R50 000 or less and the deceased did not leave a will Ė the estate may be reported to the nearest Magistrate Court as service point for the Masterís Office in whose jurisdiction it falls.

2.††††Reporting documents(obtainable from the FORMS Section on the Website):

  • Original / certified copy of the death certificate
  • Original / certified copy of the marriage certificate
  • Original will
  • Completed death notice
  • Completed next-of-kin affidavit
  • Completed inventory showing all the assets of the deceased
  • Nominations by all the heirs for the appointment of an Executor / Masterís Representative (if no-one is appointed in a will)
  • If the estate is R50 000 or less Ė an affidavit confirming that the estate was not previously reported at any other Master/Magistrate Court
  • A Declaration of Marriage by the Surviving Spouse indicating how the deceased was married
  • Acceptance of Masterís Directions / Executorship, completed and signed by the person as nominated above.
  • Certified copy of the ID of the person to be appointed as Executor / Masterís representative.
  • Note the "Letter of Executorship" must be obtained from the Office of the Master.

3.††† Appointment procedure:
If the above documents have been completed correctly and lodged with the Master/Magistrate (whatever the case may be):

  • a file is opened in the name of the deceased
  • the documentation is perused by an examiner for correctness
  • the will (if any) is considered by the assistant Master and either accepted/rejected
  • Where the value of the estate is less than R125 000-00, a Masterís Representative is appointed to administer the estate
  • Where the estate is R125 000-00 or more, the appointment of an Executor is considered.

6. What are the duties of the Masterís Representative / Executor?

Appointment of a Masterís Representative (Section 18(3) appointment):

  • If the value of an estate is R125 000-00 or less, a Masterís Representative is appointed. This is usually the person named in the will as Executor, or if the deceased died intestate (leaving no will), it will be the person nominated by the heirs to act.
    After appointment this person must administer the estate in terms of either the will, or if there is no will, the Intestate Succession Act. He/she does not have to lodge an account of the administration of the estate with the Master, unless requested to do so by the Master (normally in the estates where there are minor heirs).
  • If the appointment was made by the Magistrate Office, the said office keeps the file for a period of three months after the appointment, and then transfers it to the Masterís Office under whose jurisdiction it falls.
  • After appointment, these files are normally bound as finalized, by the Master except where an Account of Assets and Liabilities has been requested by the Master.

Appointment of an Executor:

  • In estates where the assets are valued more than R125 000, or where the estate is insolvent, an Executor is appointed by the Master. This is normally the person named in the will as Executor, or if there is no will, the person nominated by the heirs. It should be noted, however, that the Executor, if he/she is a lay person, should be assisted by an Attorney, Trust Company or Accounting Firm. He/she must also lodge security to the full value of the estate unless he/she is exempted by the will, or is the parent, spouse or child of the deceased.
  • After appointment this person must administer the estate in terms of either the will, or if there is no will, the Intestate Succession Act.
  • The Executor has six (6) months after the date of appointment in which to lodge a full Liquidation and Distribution Account with the Master. This account is a detail report on his/her administration of the estate.

Liquidation and Distribution account:

  • The Executor must advertise for creditors in the Government Gazette as well as in a newspaper that is circulated within the area where the deceased lived, giving them 30 days to lodge any claims against the estate.
  • He/she then drafts a Liquidation and Distribution Account that complies with the formalities as set out in the Administration of Estates Act.
  • It consists of:
    *†††††††††† a section showing all the assets of the deceased,
    *†††††††††† a section showing all the liabilities of the deceased,
    *†††††††††† the cash reconciliation of the estate
    *†††††††††† the distribution of the assets
    *†††††††††† the income and expenditure after death,
    *†††††††††† a section showing any fiduciary assets.
    *†††††††††† a section in which Estate Duty payable is calculated.
  • This account is then lodged with the Master for examination. If the Master is satisfied with the contents of the account he gives the Executor permission to advertise the account in terms of section 35 of the Administration of Estates Act. This means that the Executor again advertises in the Government Gazette as well as in a newspaper that is circulated within the area where the deceased lived, informing any interested party that the account is lying open for inspection for a period of 21 days, at the office of the Master as well as a copy at the office of the Magistrate in whose jurisdiction the deceased resided.
  • Interested parties can then peruse the account to make sure that their interests are protected in it. If not they can lodge a complaint within those 21 days with the Master, who will then take it up with the Executor. The Executor must then reply within 14 days to the Master giving his comments on the objection. If, after consideration of such objection, the comments of the Executor and such further particulars the Master may require, the Master is of the opinion that such objection is well-founded or if, apart from any objection, he is of the opinion that the account is in any respect incorrect and should be amended, he may direct the Executor to amend the account or may give such other directions as he may think fit.
  • Any person aggrieved by any such directions of the Master or by a refusal of the Master to sustain an objection so lodged, may apply by motion to Court within 30 days after the date of such direction or refusal or within such further period as the Court may allow, for an order to set aside the Masterís decision and the Court may make such an order as it may think fit.
    After the account has been amended, it must again lie open for inspection as explained above.
  • When the account has lain open for inspection without any objections being lodged and the Master also received the certificate from the Magistrate where the account has lain open for inspection, confirming that no objection was lodged with his office, the Master will give permission to the Executor to distribute the estate as indicated in the account.
  • The Executor has two (2) months after the expiration of the inspection period in which to distribute the account. He must also lodge proof with the Master to the effect that the distribution has been completed satisfactorily.
  • If the Executor has complied satisfactory with all the requirements the Master will reduce the security filed by the Executor to nil and release him from his duties.top

7. To what fee is the executor entitled?

The executor is entitled to the following fee:

  • on the gross value of assets in an estate: 3,5%;
  • on income accrued and collected after death of the deceased: 6%

Provided that the remuneration in respect of any deceased estate shall not be less than R350.

The executor is also entitled to charge VAT on this fee, if he is registered as such, or if the agent appointed to assist in administering the estate, is registered as such.

8. I can not find the original will of the deceased Ė will a certified copy be sufficient?

The Master can not accept a certified copy of a will. If there are no original will available, the estate will devolve according to the Intestate Succession Act, unless you lodge an application to the High Court to accept the copy as a valid will and the Court grant an order to that effect.top

9. My childís inheritance has been deposited into the Guardianís Fund Ė how do they administer these funds?

  • The money would have been deposited into the Guardianís Fund of the Master where the estate has been reported.
  • The Master will administer the funds, free of charge, for the minor until he/she turn major (now 18 years of age) or reach the age as indicated in the will.
  • This money will also bear interest, compounded monthly, whilst in the Guardianís Fund.
  • The Guardian of the minor can apply for payment of allowance/school fees etc out of it, or leave the whole amount for the minor to claim when he/she turns major / reach the age as indicated in the will.
  • The money will still bear interest for a period of 5 years after it became claimable.
  • In September each year a list is published in the Government Gazette indicating the names of beneficiaries who have money in the Guardianís Fund which was not claimed.
  • If the funds are not claimed within 30 years from becoming claimable, it is forfeited to the State.

10. How do I apply for my childís school fees to be paid out of his available funds in the Guardianís Fund?

  • On receipt if your application we can issue a letter to the relevant school confirming that the school fees will be paid.
  • Kindly submit your application during November together with the account from the school as well as confirmation that the child is registered to be attending the relevant school the following year.
  • The CEFTU 3 form needs to be completed by the relevant school and has to contain the banking details of the relevant school.
  • Funds will be paid directly to the school.top

11. How do I apply for a copy of a document which is in the Masterís File?

  • You should apply in writing to the Masterís Office where the estate has been registered and attach proof of payment of the prescribed fee of  R4-50 / R9-00 (depending on the type of copy you need)  per document of which you need a copy.
  • For the whole procedure, banking details etc. Ė please see Chief Master's Directive 2012-01PDFeform

12. Can an estate be reported electronically with the Master?

  • An estate can unfortunately not be reported electronically.
  • You must please post the original completed documents to the relevant Masterís Office.top

13. I need to know what the balance of my childís funds in the Guardianís Fund is.

Due to confidentiality, we may not confirm the balances without positive identification. (This can also not be done via phone or email)

14. Can I fax my application for funds from the Guardianís Fund, or send it electronically?

No, original forms must be posted to the relevant Masters Office where the deposit was initially made.
(Payment can only be processed on receipt of original application forms).

15. I have applied for the final payment of my inheritance from the Guardianís Fund, why should I attach my fingerprints and what are they used for?

  • It is requested in an attempt to curb fraud.
  • The copy of the ID with the fingerprints will be submitted to Home Affairs for verification.
  • Kindly take note that when application forms are returned with a note that the fingerprints are not clear, the decision was taken by Home Affairs.
  • The Guardians Fund is not in a position to decide whether the fingerprints are clear enough, since the verification is done by Home Affairs.
  • The Guardianís will not be able to pay out if the fingerprints are not verified.
  • If you are able to lodge your application personally, you need not attach your fingerprints. The Master has computers on-site (MOVIT) on which your fingerprints can be verified in person.

16. What is the interest rate of the Guardianís Fund?

The rate over the last 3 years was as follows(compounded):

  • As from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 - 7.25%
  • As from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014 - 5.5%
  • As from 1 April 2011 - 6 %