About the Master of the High Court


A Master of the High Court is appointed for every provincial division of the High Court of South Africa.  Masters' Offices are situated in Bloemfontein , Cape Town , Grahamstown , Kimberley , Mmabatho/Mafikeng , Nelspruit, Pietermaritzburg , Pretoria , Umtata , Bisho, Thohoyandou, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Durban, and Port

The Master of the High Court is a creature of statute and various Acts regulate the duties and powers of the Master.

The most important of these are the Administration of Estates Act, 1965 (Act 66 of 1965), the Insolvency Act, 1936 (Act 24 of 1936), the Companies Act, 1973 (Act 61 of 1973), the Close Corporations Act, 1984 (Act 69 of 1984) and the Trust Property Control Act, 1988 (Act 57 of 1988).

The Rationalisation of the Administration of Estates Act, 1965, which includes the functioning of the Guardian's Fund and the appointment of the Master, has not been yet completed. In terms of the present Act the Master's Offices execute inter alia the following functions:

  • The administration of estates of deceased and insolvent persons in accordance with the applicable statutory prescriptions.
  • The protection of the interests of minors and legally incapacitated persons.
  • The protection and administration of the funds of minors, contractually incapacitated and undetermined and absent heirs, which have been paid into the Guardian's Fund.
  • The supervision of the administration of companies and close corporations in accordance with the relevant statutory prescriptions.
  • The determination and assessment of estate duties in terms of the Estate Duty Act, 1955 (Act 45 of 1955), by virtue of a delegation by the South African Revenue Services.
  • The supervision of trusts in terms of the Trust Property Control Act, 1988.
  • The safeguarding of all documentary material received by the Master in respect of estates, insolvencies, liquidations, trusts, etc.
  • The processing of enquiries by executors, attorneys, beneficiaries and other interested parties.
  • The appointment of impartial and capable persons as executors, trustees, curators and liquidators.

The Masters and their staff are specialists in the field of the administration of the abovementioned matters and their role in the effective and rapid settlement of those matters is essential.They have an ever-increasing scope of duties and an exacting workload.

The Masters' staff are in daily contact with practicing attorneys, chartered accountants, insolvency practitioners, persons attached to trust companies, boards of executors, commercial banks and other financial institutions, valuators of estate goods and members of the general public.

In the general public's view the Master is still the pater familias of widows and those incapable of managing their own affairs.

In view of the fact that people from the previously disadvantaged groups have become more active and involved in the economical and financial life of the country, the personnel in the Masters' Offices are more and more called upon to get involved in an advisory capacity with those not previously exposed to the functions and duties of the Masters' Offices.

The staff in the Masters' Offices regard this contribution to the development of all very seriously.


"A dynamic, business like, commercially-viable Masters Division dedicated to the pursuit of service excellence"


"To provide efficient, cost effective and specialised services of supervision, custodianship, arbitration and information regarding Deceased and Insolvent Estates and Trusts.  To serve Estate practitioners, beneficiaries of Estates and Trusts, minors and mentally challenged persons in South Africa for the purpose of safeguarding those beneficiaries' financial and proprietary rights."

Core Values

  • Transparency
  • Accountability
  • Fairness
  • Speed
  • Excellent customer service
  • Cooperation
  • Justice for all