WILLS PROJECT AND MASTER’S OFFICE LEGAL CLINICS
ProBono.Org provides a free legal service to impoverished and vulnerable individuals and communities by accessing the probono services of the private legal profession. High quality professional legal assistance is rendered, thereby extending access to justice to those without the resources to pay.
ProBono.Org provides many avenues for its clients to receive legal assistance, including opportunities to see lawyers at our Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban offices and to attend over 20 legal clinics operating from these offices and from other outlying venues such as courts.
ProBono.Org runs two projects that specifically deal with succession issues.
• The Wills Project
• The Masters’ Office Legal Clinics
The Wills Project
The Wills Project provides education on wills and intestate succession to grass roots communities, non-governmental organisations and community based organisations. The education is aimed at empowering people to make choices that will assist their relatives in the event of their deaths. In particular minor children are protected if there is only one parent, and that parent stipulates in a will how the children should be cared for in the event of that parent dying. Having proper wills drawn up helps to avoid later family conflicts.
Workshop sessions are provided by volunteer attorneys on matters such as the reasons for having wills, what should be included in wills, the steps to be taken when someone passes away, including the procedures to follow around the guardianship of minors and reporting estates to the relevant authority. The attorneys draft wills for attendees who may require this service, pro bono.
The Master’s Office Legal Clinics
ProBono.Org also facilitates weekly Legal Clinics at the Master’s Offices in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg to assist individuals or families with legal issues related to estates valued at less than R250 000. The clinics are staffed by volunteer attorneys who attend to clients on a rotational basis. The types of matters seen include: advising on the procedure to follow when winding-up deceased estates, the validity of wills, invalid letters of authority, invalid transfers of immovable property, incorrect or fraudulent estate transfers, evictions, maintenance and removal of executors. If a matter requires further work, the attorney at the clinic takes the matter back to his or her firm, or refers the matter back to ProBono.Org to identify a law firm to take it on.
- The Johannesburg Master’s Office Legal Clinic runs every Wednesday from 09h00 – 12h00 at 66 Marshall Street, Johannesburg.
- The Durban Master’s Office Legal Clinic runs every Thursday from 10h00 - 12h30 at 2nd Floor, 2 Devonshire Place, Durban.
- The Pretoria Master’s Office Legal Clinic runs from 09h00 – 13h00 at Thabo Sehume Street, corner Schoeman Street, Pretoria.
ProBono.Org Office Legal Clearinghouse
ProBono.Org also consults with clients at the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban offices. Clients need to arrange an appointment for a consultation and this first meeting establishes whether:
- The matter has merit (sound legal reason for going to court or defending the matter);
- The person in need of legal support qualifies for pro bono assistance in terms of the Means Test as determined by the Law Societies: He or she must earn a gross salary of less than R7 000 per month and if he or she owns property, it must not exceed R350 000 in value;
- The matter is in the public interest, broadly defined. For instance, we take on any matter that serves the greater good or recognises the rights of indigent beneficiaries to live their lives without conflict, abuse or in oppressive circumstances.
Once ProBono.Org establishes that all the above criteria have been met, requests are sent out to attorneys, mediators and/or advocates on the ProBono.Org panel, and they respond if they are able to take on these matters on a pro bono basis.
Referral to Attorneys/Advocates
When a matter is referred to an attorney, unless the law firm agrees to cover the disbursements or expenses in running the matter (making copies, printing costs, sheriff’s fees, telephone expenses, etc), the client is liable for these costs. Clients in Gauteng can apply to the Law Society of the Northern Province’s Disbursement Fund, requesting that it covers these costs on the client’s behalf. The client is not liable for attorney fees, nor counsel’s fees. ProBono.Org is able to secure the services of pro bono counsel if an attorney acts pro bono in a matter.
Referral to Mediators
Some matters are referred to mediators when it is believed that a mediator could facilitate a workable agreement between the parties, particularly matters relating to inherited property and estate disputes that involve family members. Mediation is a less costly and time consuming option. The aim is to resolve the dispute within the family, while securing the (often only) immovable asset to everyone’s benefit. At the end of the mediation, the parties sign an appropriate mediation agreement, unless either of the parties decides not to continue with the mediation or the mediator decides that mediation is not viable in the circumstances.
The relevant contact person is Swazi Masinga, attorney at ProBono.Org.
Address: 1st Floor, West Wing, Women's Jail,
1 Kotze Street,
Tel: 011 339 6080 Fax: 011 339 6077
*Article provided by Probono.Org
Updated 24 February 2016