A century long experience in providing Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning and administration services

09 September 2015 Riaan Botha,Vanya Terblanche, Absa

Turning 100 years old is both a time of celebration and reflection. Known as the Northern Trust Company Limited when it was founded on 18 August 1915, Absa Trust has transformed and reinvented itself many times over to ensure that the business remains as relevant and competitive today as it was a century ago.

At the heart of this evolution is the focus on our clients and making sure that we have surrounded them with professional, value added services that has established Absa Trust as one of the leading companies on the continent. Having endured a number of company name changes along the way, we never lost our purpose - to serve and satisfy our clients’ fiduciary needs with the right products and efficient service.

Helping our clients to prosper

In the old days, face-to-face interaction was important and it was the difference between what made for great or poor service. Today, in a fast-paced technological era, our clients are looking for smarter, quicker and efficient ways to achieve their aspirations.

Wills Direct is an innovative solution and first-of-its-kind in the market that meets with our clients aspirations. Wills Direct delivers a professional Will in the shortest period of time and is just a phone call away.

Likewise, our Estate in-take Centre is another innovation that meets with these aspirations making it possible for client’s family members and/or beneficiaries to call us, toll free, for the reporting of a deceased estate.

The Administration of Estate Act provides that all deceased estates are administered through the Master of the High Court. Whilst the process may be regarded as bureaucratic it nonetheless affords the protection of both heir/beneficiaries and creditors. Perceptions of bureaucracy notwithstanding, the Master’s Office has also embarked on a new process to support vendors in streamlining the administration of deceased estates. The move to a Paperless Estate Administration system (PEAS) is also an innovative system that further provides the ultimate support of heirs and beneficiaries.

Absa Trust administers R11 billion held in various forms of Trusts and we are proud to be an integral part of the financial well-being of thousands of our clients.

We’ve enabled our clients to Prosper over the past 100 years by creating and protecting their wealth, looking after their beneficiaries, being part of their estate planning and most of all offering a simple, affordable estate administration process.

Industry trends

There has been a market shift over the last ten years in clients having their Wills drafted by legal and accounting firms and appointing these individuals and/or institutions as executors to administer their deceased estates and this is mainly due to the fact that there is a perception created in the industry that Trust companies are expensive and inexperienced in the administration of deceased estates.

At Absa Trust, amongst other things, we specialise in the administration of deceased estates and have shown over the last 100 years that we are one of the market leaders in this field. We have industry leading information technology systems and processes that facilitate an efficient, professional and client centric estate administration process that has led to Absa Trust being the preferred provider in the industry.

The levels of fiduciary duties and powers entrusted upon an executor has also become more rigid over the years and this is mainly due to the fact that there has been numerous cases where executors misused this position of trust for their own personal gain. Absa Trust has been a market leader in this aspect by ensuring that strict risk and compliance processes are adhered to in the administration of deceased estates.

Industry challenges

Executors and Trustees are dependent on seamless services delivery by various stakeholders such as the Master of the High Court, Deeds Offices, Local Government, SARS and SAPS. This requires efficient processes and healthy professional working relationships on a national level. This is an area where we have seen some challenges as an industry. However, the industry has been working very hard to improve efficiencies. It is important for consumers to ensure that they deal with a professional supplier with a good track record to ensure that they get a professional service.

What does the next 100 years hold for Absa Trust?

There are not many organisations that have such a record of long service and vast experience and expertise in the field of Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning and Administration services. Nonetheless, we cannot simply rest on our laurels and firmly believe that we are well positioned to retain our status as the Trust company of choice in South Africa. We want to remain to be seen as an innovative provider of services, the employer of choice and the company that makes people prosper.

We are clear on our direction and our strategy is on track to keep making a difference in the lives of our clients, their families and our employees. Here’s to the next 100 years.

Quick Polls


Financial behaviour experts suggest that today’s risk modelling methodologies ignore your client’s emotional ability / behavioural capacity. What are your thoughts on spicing up risk profiling tools to make allowance for your client’s financial behaviours


[a] Bring it on; my client’s make too many irrational financial decisions
[b] Existing risk profiling tools are adequate
[c] Risk profiling tools should be based on the model / rational client
[d] The perfect risk profiling tool is science fiction
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