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Trusts and Estate Planning

Here we go again! If it’s not SARS, or the IDC then it’s the Master of the High Court. They all constantly change the game apparently on the whim of someone in authority.

The Master’s office in Johannesburg has a new Assistant Master and she’s a stickler for the rules (that’s probably why she got the job, because her predecessor was great at cutting corners, which suited us well).

It seems that several years ago, somebody issued a set of rules that (contrary to Contract Law which governs Trust Deeds), we cannot replace one trust deed (which is a contract between the Donor and the Trustees) with another with the agreement of all parties to the contract. They can only consent to amendments.

This makes our life much more difficult, because we often get trust deeds drafted by attorneys who, by their own admission, are copy and paste experts. These trust deeds are usually (but not always, bless the good guys) full of nonsense, spelling errors and typos. Now, I’m also a bit of a nitpicker when it comes to the written word and I can’t resist correcting the trivia as well as the important matters. It used to be so much easier to chuck the garbage into the bin and submit something which I’ve carefully drafted from scratch.

To add to our woes. SARS is now insisting that the trust have a bank account before they will register it for tax. We customarily register for tax then make the trust dormant for tax, but now we have to open a bank account and subsequently close it to save bank charges.

No problem? Yes a new problem. Fortunately, we have a great relationship with Standard Bank Randburg, but we hate mucking them around like this but the banks also have a new set of rules. They have to FICA all of the trustees! If any one of them is blacklisted, bang goes the bank account, bang goes the tax registration and bang goes the trust.

Welcome to our world!



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