LETTER: The Master’s Office and small estates
Dispersal of R50bn worth of estate property is left unsupervised by any official
Jonny Steinberg’s most recent column refers (“In the Master’s Office black people step into the past”, September 9). After the Moseneke judgment by the Constitutional Court stating that the distinction between “white” estates and “black” estates should be ended, the number of estates handled by the Master’s Office increased exponentially. Yet the number of people employed by that office remained static.
The Administration of Estates Act has a provision, section 18(3), that after “small” estates are reported to the master, the duly appointed representative of the estate can proceed to liquidate the estate concerned without supervision. The chief master has decreed that a “small” estate is an estate up to R250,000.
If there are just 200,000 “small” estates needing to be liquidated annually, that is potentially a dispersal of R50bn worth of estate property left unsupervised by any official.
While an “RDP” property might be valued at R750,000 in Soweto, as a result of that supremely inflexible law — supply and demand — there are areas in SA where such houses are valued at just R50,000 and are being sold for such prices, putting the whole estate in the “small” category, not requiring supervision by the master of the high court.
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