A curator bonis is a person (usually an attorney or advocate) appointed by the High Court to manage the financial interests and assets of a person who has been declared to be unable to do so. The reason for his/her inability could stem from mental or physical incapacity.
To illustrate: John has been diagnosed with dementia and can no longer manage to take care of his day to day or long-term financial affairs. In such a case it would be appropriate to appoint a curator bonis, who would be tasked with managing John’s financial affairs optimally.
The appointed curator bonis does not have free reign to make decisions regarding John’s financial affairs as he/she pleases, but is limited to those powers which are granted by the Court.
These powers may include:
- To sell any property belonging to John;
- To carry on or discontinue any business or undertaking of his;
- To invest John’s available funds;
- To apply any money towards his medical care and maintenance.
The curator bonis, once appointed will also be obliged to provide regular reports and updates to the Master of the High Court and must submit a detailed administration account to the Master at each financial year end, setting out the income received, expenditure incurred etc.
The duties and powers of the curator bonis are therefore monitored by the Master and he/she is also obliged to provide security to the Master, as a guarantee that he/she will execute his/her duties properly. In most cases, an attorney will be appointed as curator bonis, as attorneys are obliged to have Fidelity Fund certificates, which satisfies the Court’s requirement for security.
The process for appointment of a curator bonis can briefly be outlined as follows:
As mentioned, it is an application to the High Court, which application will be supported by an affidavit from the applicant (the person applying to court for the appointment of a curator bonis, for example John’s aged mother, as well as affidavits by two medical practitioners (one of which must be a psychiatrist) who have assessed John’s mental competence and can advise the Court on whether he is incapable of managing his own financial affairs.
Once the curator bonis has been appointed by the Court, he/she will essentially step into John’s shoes in all matters relating to his assets and financial affairs.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)