Category Life Insurance

FISA makes an urgent plea to the banks to focus on bank accounts of clients who have passed away

03 November 2022 The Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA)

The Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA) is calling on all banks to investigate why it takes months to provide basic information to Executors to administer deceased estates.

The delays experienced in the administration and finalisation of deceased estates have been much in the media in recent months. The Master’s Offices are often blamed for the backlog but it appears that some of the banks are also the reason for the delays.

The Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA) is therefore calling urgently on all commercial banks to help reduce the backlog and play their part in the administration process by streamlining their procedures. This will help families who have lost loved ones with their financial challenges while they are in mourning and assist Executors to limit the risks during the administration process.

Mr Ian Brink, Chairperson of FISA, said: “We are urgently urging the banks to streamline and clarify procedures in the areas mentioned below, all of which are required by the executor of a deceased estate so that a Liquidation and Distribution account in the deceased estate can be drawn up without delay:

• Providing certificates of balance. The Executor needs these to draft the Liquidation and Distribution account in the estate.
• Closing of the bank account in a deceased’s name and paying the proceeds into a new deceased estate’s account, to ensure liquidity for urgent expenses and financial needs of the family, for example keeping up with insurance premiums and settling debt.
• Providing a tax certificate timeously.”

Mr Brink said that the various banks have different procedures which they also sometimes change without consultation, leading to internal confusion among bank staff, as well as huge frustration to FISA members who are trying to fulfil their fiduciary duty to clients.

Speaking from a fiduciary practitioner’s viewpoint, Ms Angelique Visser, FISA National Councillor and a past FISA Chairperson, said:

“I speak from my own experience but know that my fellow practitioners are in the same situation as I am contacted by many of them on a regular basis. There unfortunately seems to be a lack of responsibility on the part of most banks to provide an acceptable level of client service to the Executors and heirs of their clients who held bank accounts and have passed on, some of whom may have banked with the institution for decades.”

Ms Visser said: “Some practitioners are able to obtain authority from the Master’s Office within two to three weeks and then have to battle for three to four months for a response from some of the banks. I have personally approached the senior management of several banks for assistance but have sadly not seen any improvement; hence the reason why we are bringing it to the attention of the public,” said Ms Visser.

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