‘Test Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill 2024’



MASERU – Lawyer and former civil servant, Advocate Hlahlobo Moruri, has petitioned the Law and Public Service Cluster Committee of Parliament to reconsider the Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill of 2024. He seeks amendments to the bill due to its inconsistencies and what he perceives as discriminatory provisions.

Moruri, who owns a law firm called Cupid Chambers, is particularly concerned with Section 21 of the bill, which outlines the eligibility criteria for individuals to act as executors of estates. According to the bill, eligible executors include: attorneys, competent and authorised officers within accredited institutions, officers who have served in the office of the Master or Parliamentary Council for a minimum of 10 years, notary publics, surviving spouses, children, or parents with the assistance of an agent from the aforementioned categories, and legal practitioners who have successfully wound up no fewer than five estates to the satisfaction of the Master of the High Court.

This office was created as far back as 1935 and was established by the Administration of Estates Proclamation No. 19 of 1935. The Office of the Master is responsible for the administration of deceased and insolvent estates, the protection of the property of minors, and the administration of the guardian fund. The Master of the High Court Head Office, spearheaded by Advocate Veronica Matiea, is situated in Maseru. The offices in the districts are managed by the Assistant Master of the High Court. 

In his petition, Advocate Moruri argues that it is unjust for attorneys and notary publics to be granted executorship privileges while other legal practitioners are excluded.

He questions the rationale behind allowing lawyers employed by financial institutions to act as executors solely due to their employment status, while other qualified lawyers are ineligible.Moruri further questions the requirement for former employees of the Master of High Court to have a minimum of 10 years’ experience, considering their prior involvement in estate administration.He also queries the separation of employees from the Parliamentary Council from other civil servants in terms of eligibility.

To rectify these issues, Moruri suggests that all lawyers with a minimum of two years’ experience should be eligible as executors, given their potential to open their own practices. Additionally, he proposes reducing the required experience for former Master of High Court employees to five years and excluding former employees of the Parliamentary Council from eligibility altogether. The Administration of Estates and Inheritance Bill, a part of donor-sponsored legislation, is crucial for the government to maintain funding for various projects.

Parliament is currently reviewing these bills for enactment. The bill aims to modernise laws concerning inheritance, administration, and distribution of estates, including those of deceased persons, minors under curatorship, mentally incapacitated individuals, and those absent from Lesotho without a lawful representative. Once enacted, the bill will also govern wills and the rights of beneficiaries. Moruri, who served as a civil servant for eight years at the Master of High Court before establishing his own practice, advocates for these amendments to ensure fairness and efficiency in estate administration.

In an interview with Public Eye, Moruri expressed concern over the automatic eligibility granted to officials from the Parliamentary Counsel who do not engage in the administration of estates. “The law should be reasonable, general, not discriminative and just, and to be seen to benefit a select few,” he emphasised. “The issue lies in the limited opportunities for new entrants, as existing law firms monopolise the administration of estates without opening doors for fresh talent.”

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