Things to know when acting as Trustee

by Annemarie Schutte


All Trustees know that you may only act as Trustee if you are authorised by the Master of the High Court to do so. Thousands of people are signing documents to be appointed as Trustee, but do you truly know what you are attesting to? We are all used to the fine print (or not-so-fine print) we tend to ignore when signing documents.

As your Trust Advisor, I want to make you aware of a couple of important things.

When you request to be appointed as Trustee, the Master requires you to sign an affidavit, namely an 'Acceptance of Trusteeship by Trustee' or 'J417' form. Since this form must be signed in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths, this is an affidavit.  The Master will determine if you are a fit and proper person to fulfil the role as Trustee based on the information on this affidavit.

In this affidavit, you attest to a couple of factors which will influence your ability to act as Trustee, such as:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of any offence of dishonesty or sentenced to prison without a fine option?
  2. Have you ever been declared insolvent?
  3. Have you ever been removed from office in respect to any appointment as a Trustee? and
  4. Have you ever been declared mentally ill/incapacitated?

If you answer yes to any one of the above points, we need to provide the Master with more details regarding the applicable point, i.e. the type of offence and sentence (in case of point 1 being applicable) or the court order ordering your rehabilitation (in case of point 2 being applicable) etc.

On the same affidavit you need to confirm the following: