Jargon Buster: Letters of Authority

“Letters of Authority” refer to a document issued by the master of the high court regarding the appointment of a competent person to handle certain matters.

Trust assets are controlled by trustees who need to take their fiduciary responsibilities seriously in terms of the law. To act as a trustee, they must be properly authorised through a valid Letters of Authority issued by the master of the high court.

Trustees are appointed in the trust deed or by way of a resolution and are then appointed as such by the master in terms of the Trust Property Control Act.

A person accepts the appointment by signing the trust deed (where a new trust is being formed) and then applying to the master for appointment and the issuing of Letters of Authority.

Appointment in terms of the Administration of Estates Act
The master may issue Letters of Authority if a person dies and the value of their deceased estate is less than R125 000.


Since December 2002, magistrate’s offices are service points for the master and the family can apply here for the appointment of an administrator. The Letters of Authority empowers the person to administer the deceased estate without following the full procedure set out in the Act. Letters of Executorship may therefore be dispensed with and an informal and more cost-effective estate administration process will be followed.

  • For further information, contact the Fiduciary Institute of South Africa at www.fidsa.org.za. A list of registered fiduciary practitioners is provided on their website.

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