Appointing the executor of your estate is an extremely important decision because he or she will ‘step into your shoes’ when you pass away and be responsible for the administration of your estate and ensuring that your final wishes are honoured, and your loved ones are taken care of.
The administration of a deceased estate by an executor involves ensuring that all debts and liabilities are calculated correctly and settled and that the residue of the estate is transferred to beneficiaries timeously with minimal delays and complications. Administering an estate requires your executor to communicate with the Master of the High Court, the South African Revenue Service, municipalities, your employer, financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, your beneficiaries, as well as other possible debtors and/or creditors of your estate.
Your executor is nominated in your will and appointed by the issue of Letters of Executorship by the Master of the High Court. It is common in South Africa for a person making a will to appoint a loved one as their executor in their will. However, the complexity of the process of deceased estate administration, and the responsibility placed on an executor who is grieving the loss of a loved one, is often underestimated. We know that there are numerous advantages to appointing a certified Fiduciary Practitioner or FPSA ® as the executor or co-executor of your estate.
What is a Fiduciary Practitioner or FPSA®?
The word ‘fiduciary’ originates from the Latin word ‘fiducia’ which means confidence, trust or reliance, and refers to a relationship involving trust, entrusting responsibility to someone else, or looking after something on someone else’s behalf.
A certified Fiduciary Practitioner or a FPSA® is a professional member of FISA®, the Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa, who has the necessary qualifications and demonstrated experience to act as a professional in the often-complex fiduciary industry in South Africa. Fiduciary Practitioners in South Africa come from many different backgrounds and industries such as attorneys, accountants, financial planners, directors, and founders, among many others.
FISA®, or the Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa, is currently the sole professional organisation that focuses only on fiduciary practitioners in Southern Africa. It is a non-profit organisation that sets high minimum standards for its members in the fiduciary profession in South Africa and provides continuing education to the public and its members on fiduciary matters.
Advantages of having an Executor who is a FPSA®
- A FPSA® will be an experienced professional with the qualifications and demonstrated experience to deal with fiduciary matters in South Africa. He or she will therefore be equipped to deal with any situation that may arise and that may require specialist knowledge relating to wills, tax, property, investments, trusts, or the estate administration process.
- The process of winding up a deceased estate is time-consuming and complicated. Appointing a dedicated fiduciary practitioner with a FPSA® designation, whose sole focus is fiduciary work, will lighten the burden on your trusted executor as he or she will already have the specialist knowledge and systems in place to ensure that your estate is dealt with effectively and timeously.
- Disputes between beneficiaries or family members of the deceased are common, even in estates with a minimal value. Where family members or beneficiaries cannot agree on certain matters, an FPSA® as your executor will be an independent voice to mediate between parties, act in your best interests and ensure that your wishes are honoured. It is the standard of a FPSA® to always remain fair and impartial and to act with integrity.
- When choosing an executor, you may think that appointing a family member as an executor will save money, however, this is often not the case. Due to the specialist knowledge required, executors without fiduciary knowledge often end up appointing a professional to assist with the numerous calculations, complicated tax issues and legal requirements involved in deceased estate administration. Appointing a FPSA® from the beginning will avoid wasted costs and unnecessary delays in the winding up of your estate.
- There is no guarantee that a family member or friend will be willing or able to accept the appointment as executor after your death. Should they fail to accept the appointment, the Master will appoint someone to act as your executor. This may be someone you and your loved ones do not know at all. By appointing a FPSA®, there will be continuity in your choice, as they will most likely have a succession plan in place so that all their clients will be handled by another professional who is as suitable and experienced should they not be able to fulfil their role as executor when the time comes.
When choosing your executor, it is highly recommended to consider appointing a professional fiduciary practitioner or FPSA® to act on your behalf when you pass away. Appointing a FPSA® from the beginning will avoid wasted costs and unnecessary delays in the winding up of your estate. It will also ensure that your executor is an experienced professional with the qualifications and demonstrated experience to deal with fiduciary matters and will already have the specialist knowledge and systems in place to ensure that your estate is dealt with effectively and timeously.
A FPSA® will be held to the high standards of the fiduciary profession and will remain fair and impartial in mediating possible disputes between beneficiaries and will always act in your best interests to ensure that your wishes are honoured. Appointing a FPSA® will also ensure continuity and a succession plan should they not be able to fulfil their role as executor when the time comes.
The director of Marsh Fidelity, Daniel Marsh, holds an FPSA® designation and in March 2023, Daniel was appointed as the Vice-Chairman of FISA KwaZulu-Natal, a regional branch of the Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa. At Marsh Fidelity, all our staff are highly qualified and specialists in the fiduciary, tax, and legal fields.
Contact us today at [email protected] or visit our website www.marshfidelity.co.za for more information on the services we offer to ensure that your will and your estate are in order and that your assets and loved ones are protected in the event of your passing.