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Trusts and Estate Planning

We have been forming trusts for about 20 years. Many of them are formed with me as the Donor and my wife Helen and I as trustees.

They are the put on the shelf to mature and be sold when someone needs a trust urgently or wants an old one. Then we change the trustees, beneficiaries etc. and usually leave me in place as the Independent Professional Trustee.

And now, many years down the track, the Johannesburg Master has suddenly decided that the Donor cannot be the Independent Trustee.

Not only did it take her and her predecessors about 20 years to come to this conclusion, but she has no right to insist on an Independent Trustee anyway. Her argument is that she is enforcing a precedent set by a case that dates back many years.

I respectfully pointed out to her that neither she nor her staff have the authority to apply case law – that is for the courts only. Her job is to apply the statutes, the Trust Property Control Act in this case, and her authority ends there. Needless to say, she ignores me in the same way that she ignores the law. Maybe she should apply for the Public Protector’s job – she would easily fit into Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s shoes when she finally gets kicked out!

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