The Master’s Office is established by Section 3 of the Administration of Estates Act [Chapter 6:01]. The mandate of the Master’s Office is to protect the financial interests of persons whose estates are, for various reasons, being managed by others.
The office is headed by the Master of the High Court who is based at the Master’s House in Harare. The office has two administrative regions which can roughly be described as Harare and Bulawayo. The jurisdiction of the regions follows that of the High Courts.
The Master is assisted in discharging his mandate by two Deputy Masters (one in Harare and one in Bulawayo), an Additional Master and Assistant Masters, and other support staff.
The Master’s Office has three main divisions: –
-The Deceased Estates Section.
-The Minors Section, which includes the Guardian’s Fund, and
-The Insolvency Section.
THE DECEASED ESTATES SECTION
This is the arm of the Master’s Office that administers the estates of persons who have died. The purpose is to ensure an orderly winding up of the deceased estates.
THE MINORS’ SECTION
This is the section that administers the Guardian’s Fund which is established by Section 97 of the Administration of Estates Act [Chapter 6:01]. The purpose of the fund is primarily to protect the funds of minors, legally incapacitated persons, known or undetermined, absent and untraceable heirs which have been paid into the Guardian’s Fund. The section also administers the assets and funds accruing to children under the age of 18.
THE INSOLVENCY SECTION
This section administers the estates of insolvent persons, both natural and juristic. The administration is done in terms of the Insolvency Act [Chapter 6:04] and Companies Act [Chapter 24:03]. It has jurisdiction over companies under judicial management and liquidation, and natural persons under trusteeship. Once a provisional order for judicial management, liquidation or sequestration has been made, the entire estate of the company or person concerned immediately vests in the Master who shall appoint a judicial manager or liquidator or trustee, as the case maybe.