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FISA heritage project # 12 – Q&A


  • What’s the difference between a board of executors and a trust company?

The difference between a board of executors and a trust company is not exactly clear, but according to FISA CEO Louis van Vuren, presumably a board of executors focused on deceased estates whereas trust companies more on trusts and wealth management. Adding to the nomenclature confusion, it was also common in earlier days for “Orphan Chambers” to exist.

  • Why are there so many dormant trust companies?

Trust companies and boards of executors were and continue to be kept dormant even if they are no longer active because they are registered entities and a will or estate could emerge years after an estate was presumed to be wound up. Louis cites a case where a company took on an estate in 2009 that related to a will that was dated 1963 and had “popped up” over 40 years later. Furthermore a trust deed might state that a certain entity would be a trustee in perpetuity and hence it would not be permissible to deregister the trust company.

In the wave of consolidation that took place mainly from the mid-1960s onwards, dormant companies were often acquired by larger institutions, including banks, and their names changed. That is why you will find that a company such as Old Mutual Trust Company has its genesis in “The Frontier Orphan Chambers and Trust Company Limited of King Williams Town”, founded in 1927.

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