Master Offices services to go digital

Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DJCOD) is expected to officially launch the Masters’ Deceased Estates Online Registration System in October.

In a webinar to inform the public about the new online service, Advocate Kanyane Mathibe, Chief Director for Strategy and Policy in the Office of the Chief Master said the system seeks to enable the Masters’ offices to serve clients in a quicker manner and reduce queues.

“We then embarked on a journey to develop an online deceased estates registration system that cuts the time in half that you can now register or report estates in the comfort of your home or in your office without having to interact with the Masters’ Office except in the lodgement of an original will where you would still need to lodge the original will after which the letter of authority would be granted.

“Further to that, we then allowed other features to be developed including an online appointment booking system where you would be able to book an appointment with the master in your jurisdiction at a specific time and you will be attended to either by an estate controller, a legally trained professional or an assistant master…depending on the complexity of the matter,” Mathibe said.

She explained that the office had received a number of complaints about services at the Master’s Office and this, coupled with other factors, prompted the move towards an online service.

“We have had challenges. Some…would have submitted complaints about the challenges that you’re experiencing with the Masters’ Office. We’ve got long queues. We’ve got more clients than we have the capacity to handle in our offices. We’ve seen increased customer complaints over the year, two years or so with the slow response of our systems, the high likelihood of fraud where letters of authority are being manipulated through fraudulent activities.

“Repeat walk ins where you come into the Master’s Office, you do not have the right documents, we send you back and you still have to come back. In some instances, misplacing or losing client documents where then duplicate files would have to be created. And we’ve been plagued by load shedding…that interrupts our services in offices where back up power has not been installed,” she said.

Mathibe added that a new letter of authority will be put in place in order to cut out incidents where letters of authority or executorship were fraudulently obtained through falsifying signatures.

“We now have a QR Code…that is embedded in a letter of authority. So the new letter of authority…it’s got an embedded QR code where you can then verify the authenticity of the letter of authority or the letter of executorship by a master,” she said. –