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The Trust Property Control Act 57 of 1988 regulates trusts. Section 1 defines a trust instrument as "a written agreement or a testamentary writing or a court order according to which a trust is created". Trust property is defined as "any movable or immovable property, and includes any interests in property, which in accordance with the provisions of a trust instrument are to be administered or disposed of by the trustee". Trust property does not form part of the trustee's personal estate, even though ownership vests in the trustee. Trusts are therefore ideal instruments for estate planning puposes.
Trusts are regularly used to manage and maintain inheritances of heirs who are minors or persons without contractual capacity. Another application is to circumvent the problems around the subdivision of agricultural land as determined by the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act.
The trust instrument must be lodged with the Master of the High Court for registration as prescribed by the Trust Property Control Act. Upon registration, the Master allocates a unique trust number and issues letters of authorisation to and in favour of the trustee/s.