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Notarial Practice and Trust Law in South Africa

Notarial Practice deals with the authentication of documents for legal purposes.
Law Firms & Attorneys in Rosebank, Johannesburg

Notarial Practice and Trust Law

Notarial Law deals with the authentication of documents for legal purposes – for example: certifying that copies of a contract or other legal documents, like proof of identity, birth and marriage certificates, and legal declarations, among others, are in fact, a true copy of the original, or that the signature on the contract is indeed the signatories’ signature.

Having such documents authenticated (or apostilled) is an absolute necessity, particularly when documents are going to be presented for examination by governmental or legal departments, both within South Africa and overseas and for the HPCSA. In cases where clients are planning to work offshore, or to emigrate, it is critically important to ensure that all relevant documents, certificates, and declarations are correctly apostilled or authenticated.

An apostile is a different process to an authentication. The former relates to Hague Convention Country signatories, whereas the latter is in respect of non-signatory countries and requires an extra 2 steps, being DIRCO and then the embassy of the country to which the document is going.

Documents for use in foreign jurisdictions may also need to be authenticated by the South African High Court, as well as relevant embassies, and our notarial department assists with these functions in order to offer our clients – both individual as well as commercial – a convenient one-stop solution.

Our Notarial Practice also assists with the drawing up of various contracts and agreements – notably in the case of pre-nuptial and ante-nuptial contracts and other private or commercial agreements.

To ensure that your key documents are properly authenticated and certified, contact us today for more information or to arrange a consultation.

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A notarized document with a red, embossed notary seal on the lower right corner and a silver embosser at the top, on a dark background.

A Simpler, Clearer Approach to Notarial Practice and Trust Law

For many people, entering into legal agreements can be an unfamiliar and somewhat daunting experience. All too often, even the drawing up of a non-commercial agreement (for example, an antenuptial contract) is often a source of uncertainty and stress for the parties concerned.

At Witz Inc. Law Firm in Rosebank, Johannesburg, we understand the necessity of welcoming our clients within a friendly, knowledgeable environment and providing them with information that is simple, concise, and enables a clear understanding of all the relevant details. We prefer a personable, one-on-one approach that is interactive and helpful, a user-friendly experience that combines sound legal advice with the utmost professionalism and attentiveness to the needs of our clients.

How To Set Up a Trust in South Africa

Our Notarial & Trust and Commercial Law Departments also specialise in the creating of Trusts. A Trust is a legal structure that can serve a number of purposes depending upon requirements. Put very simply, a Trust is an arrangement by which the ownership of property or assets is placed in the care of a Trustee, whose role it is to ensure that these assets are transferred or bequeathed to one or more beneficiaries or, in trusts that are used for commercial purposes, the Trustees’ roles are to manage the assets or investments for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the Trust as a board of directors would do in a company.

A Trust is created by a person donating assets or money (a “Donor” or a “Founder”) and is created in terms of a Deed of Trust which is a written document in terms of which the donor will stipulate the beneficiaries of the Trust, the number and powers of the Trustees that are to be appointed – the Deed of Trust is very similar to a shareholders agreement used in companies except that the Deed of Trust will need to be approved by the Master of the High Court who will appoint the Trustees in terms of Letters of Executorship. There are several types of Trusts, but the most common are a Living Trust and a Testamentary Trust.

  • A Living Trust is created during the lifetime of its founder. Depending upon the type of Living Trust, the benefits that each beneficiary receives may be stipulated upfront, or alternatively, this may be delegated to the discretion of the Trustee in terms of the Deed of Trust.
  • Commercial/Investment Trusts are Trusts that are commonly used as vehicles to hold investments and business structures and are also governed by the relevant Deed of Trust and are used by families to manage their wealth, for example.
  • A Testamentary Trust (as the name suggests) is one which is set up according to the Will of a deceased person. A common example of this is a situation where a Trust is established to safeguard assets on behalf of minor children, for instance.

Before you decide to form a trust talk to us.

Before deciding to form any Trust, it is important to carefully consider the income tax and other complex legal consequences and therefore it is advisable that one should consult our experts in our Notarial or Commercial Departments who will assist you with expert legal advice and facilitate every step of the process on your behalf.

To find out more about how we can assist you with notarial and commercial transactions , or to arrange a consultation with an expert in the relevant department , please contact us.​