January 25, 2018

How to claim from the Guardianship Fund

Most parents leave a last will and testament with a clause that specifies that if they die before their children have turned 18 (or any age determined in the will), their inheritance should be paid to a Trust or the Master of the High Court Guardianship Fund.

When paid to a Trust, the Trustees have total control over the inheritance. The benefit of paying the inheritance to the Guardianship Fund is that a very high interest rate is earned, which ensures that the funds grow until the child reaches the specified age.

When the child reaches the determined age and is entitled to the inheritance paid to the Guardianship Fund, certain documents must be lodged and a verification must take pace at the Master’s Office where the original documents were submitted.

The Master has experienced some beneficiaries claiming from the Guardianship Fund through a tracing agent. These tracing agents offer to assist the applicant at a fee. In terms of section 51(1) of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 68 of 2008, a supplier may not make any transactions or agreements subject to any term or condition if it purports to cede to any person, charge, set off against a debt, or alienate in any manner, the consumer’s right to claim against the Guardianship Fund.

It seems that the clients assisted by tracing agents are not aware that they would be charged a fee. Normally, an agent would charge a percentage of the interest earned on the funds. Clients are also told to open a separate bank account, instead of using any account of their choice. If a tracing agent acts in contravention of the CPA and the client suffers a loss, they can lay charges against the agent.

In order to prevent the losses associated with using tracing agents, anyone claiming from the Guardianship Fund should lodge a sworn affidavit confirming that they were not assisted by a tracing agent with their application. The affidavit should also confirm that the applicant is familiar with the CPA, including that they don’t need to pay a tracing agent. If you request the Master to make a payment to the bank account specified by a tracing agent and consequently receive less or no money, you will not be able to hold the Master responsible.

The Guardianship Fund is not linked to any tracing agent services and all services are free of charge. The Master therefore insists that the application is done personally by the beneficiary in order to prevent any loss.


Raullene Marais

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