Why would I need to contact Rodel Fiduciary?

When a person is injured due to the negligence of another person, a court of law most often makes a monetary award to the injured person. 

The award makes provision for funds to last the rest of the injured person’s life, to cover for loss of income, medical expenses, future medical expenses, etc. 

When the injured person is unable to administer the funds due to being physically or mentally incapacitated or because they are a child, the court may order the funds to be placed into a special disability trust so that the medical and financial needs of the claimant are protected. Rodel Fiduciary specialises in setting up and administering such trusts.


How is a special disability trust different from a family or investment trust?

Family trusts are testamentary or Inter Vivos (Live) trusts with the intention of managing and distributing funds to the nominated beneficiaries in the Trust Deed.  Disability trusts are Inter Vivos trusts but are usually preceded by a legal trial based on the negligence of another. The beneficiary is disabled with specific medical needs and is unable to take care of his/her own affairs.

Both types of trusts are set up through the Master of the High Court. Administering disability trusts are usually more time-consuming because the beneficiaries of disability trusts often require significant medical care. This may need to be administered on a daily or weekly basis. To assist with this, the trust company appoints a medical case manager and various specialist medical professionals to ensure that their needs are taken care of.

The trust company also employs dedicated portfolio managers to assist the trustees. They are a central point of contact for the families and are essential in facilitating the needs of the beneficiary. Whether it be organising for medication to be delivered, ensuring the payment for a new wheelchair is made on time, or liaising with independent wealth managers who invest the funds – they ensure that the holistic life plan of the beneficiary is adequately managed. Crucially, they also ensure that monies are only paid out for the care and livelihood of the beneficiary according to the terms of the Trust Deed and when authorised by signed resolutions.

Each portfolio manager allocated to a beneficiary, receives training related to the beneficiary’s injury or impairment. They can then render specialised services for that beneficiary e.g. in respect of brain injuries, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, spina bifida, retinopathy of prematurity, paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Rodel Fiduciary also ensures that it (the corporate entity) is registered as the independent trustee, represented by two or more natural people. This is prudent practice as it ensures that there is no interruption to the administration of the trust, as would be the case if a natural person were appointed and then passed away or resigns as a trustee.


Why is it better to set up a disability trust for an injured person rather than appoint a curator bonis?

The judgment by Keightley J in Master of the High Court vs The Pretoria Society of Advocates and others, (case number: 35182/2016, Gauteng Division, Pretoria), examined the need for the process, benefits and disadvantages, as well as evidence required, when a curator-bonis, alternatively, a trust be established.

The crux of the judgment is that, provided the evidence supports it, special trusts may provide a more favourable option.

When a curator bonis is appointed, consent from the Master of the High Court is required in respect of all expenses. This may cause signi­ficant delays to the detriment of the beneficiary. Trustees, however, are able to make expeditious decisions and payment, without prior consent from the Master of the High Court, provided the expense is in the interest of the injured person.  This is often necessary for e.g. admission and emergency treatment at a private hospital, as well as purchase of equipment and the like.
It is also important to note that a curator bonis manages all of the administration in order to provide for the day-to-day medical and financial needs of the injured person on his or her own. However, a trust company such as Rodel Fiduciary provides a skilled, trained team, thereby offering a multi-disciplinary team, involving independent expertise in respect of all decisions made. This team of experts, includes e.g. various medical specialists; lawyers; chartered accountants; ­financial planners and registered fiduciary practitioners.  Additionally, in the event that a curator bonis passes away, there will be significant delays in the running of the estate, as a new curator bonis would need to be appointed by the Master of the High Court, which can take months. However, a trust continues without delay regardless of the death of a trustee as there are a number of trustees appointed at any given time.


What are the fees relating to setting up and running a disability trust?

Traditionally trust fees have been higher than those related to a curator bonis, as the Master of the High Court determined that a curator bonis fees are set at 6% of the annual income of the estate and 2% of the capital assets on termination.

However, in a May 2022 judgement regarding the Master’s powers by Judge Keightley, it was ruled that a curator’s fees should be based on time and complexity of the matter and not merely limited to the tariff quoted above.

A practice manual is awaited based on the said judgement, which is expected to result in an equalisation of fees between curators and trustees.

In the disability trust industry, the average trust administration fees range from 1% to 1.9% p.a. of the value of assets held in trust. Rodel Fiduciary’s trust administration fees are considerably lower than the average fee.

Rodel Fiduciary also offers a care component which the family may opt for should the need be there to attend to the daily medical needs of the injured person (making of medical appointments with the correct medical professional, arranging for transport to a medical facility, the provision of timeous medical prescriptions etc). This is charged at an hourly rate and may vary depending on the needs of the injured person.

Due to specialised independent financial planners being utilised by most trust companies, better returns are gained on the invested funds (than curators would gain) thus assisting with covering the trust administration fees.


What is the benefit to an attorney of establishing a trust for the injured person?

Most medical negligence or RAF attorneys have experienced the stress involved with the injured person or their family continuing to require assistance from them after the matter have been finalised and their file closed.

Any good trust company should take this burden from the attorney, thereby allowing the attorney to focus on fee earning matters. Rodel Fiduciary has a digital app (at no extra cost) which the injured person or their family can access at any time to get updates of the value of their funds, or to see what payments are made. They can also utilise the “call me” option on the app, and their allocated case manager or trust administrator will call them back. These type of services ensure that the injured person and their family can access information easily and always have someone who can assist them, thereby ensuring that they don’t need to contact the attorney.


Why should I use a specialised disability trust company like Rodel Fiduciary instead of getting my accountant or financial planner to set up and run the disability trust?

Most accountant and / or financial planners are equipped to handle the financial, planning and accounting areas of administering the trust.

However, administering a special disability trust requires specialised knowledge around the medical needs of the injured person. A cerebral palsy child for example has very complex care needs involving several medical professionals and from time to time may require emergency hospitalisation. Disability trust companies have systems in place to handle these medical needs and have trained people on hand to ensure that the care received by the injured person is of the highest possible standard.

What are the awarded funds used for?

In accordance with the provisions of the Court order and the registered Trust Deed, the funds in the Trust will be utilised for the wellbeing and care of the injured person.

The needs may be as follows:

  • Medical expenses related to their injury including hospital costs, doctor’s costs, radiological investigations, blood tests, speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and equipment.
  • Monthly subsistence costs, including a contribution towards rental or accommodation costs closer to medical facilities, utility expenses, transport costs and the like.
  • Caregiving and facilitation services.

Rodel Fiduciary will use actuarial projections to create an annual budget (Cash Flow Forecast) which provides a framework for the above expenses. This is to ensure that there are funds available for the entirety of the inured person’s life expectancy.


What does a medical case manager do?

In most cases a trust company will appoint a medical case manager to assist an injured person access the appropriate and relevant resources necessary to attain their identified goals. Careful consideration is given to the client’s diverse and special needs.

In order to do this, the case manager needs to be a professional, medically qualified person with extensive, suitable knowledge so that they can advise, advocate and promote services and recommendations for the handling of the injured person’s case. The case manager should also have adequate geographical accessibility to the injured person.

The case manager must coordinate, oversee, monitor, and investigate the nature, extent and efficacy of the necessary therapies, treatment and other devices, aids and accessories as required for the injured person and ensure that the injured person gets what they need.


What are the specific duties and responsibilities of a case manager?

  • Medical services and care which includes liaising with all relevant parties, monitoring, coordinating, and providing professional advice and assistance as needed.
  • Rehabilitation services which include identifying appropriate therapists and service providers, monitoring adherence, training and liaising with all relevant parties.
  • Schooling / tertiary education / work / employment which includes assessing the current situation for quality, appropriateness, the services provided (therapies / transport / nursing care) and the costs involved.
  • Other services such as liaising with relevant service providers, transport arrangements and providing assistance in drawing up of a monthly consumables budget.
  • Assistive devices / equipment which includes liaising with the relevant specialist to ensure that the recommended assistive devices or equipment remain appropriate. To arrange training regarding the use and care of the assistive devices or equipment as well as the monitoring thereof.
  • Administrative duties which include communicating with all the relevant parties and keeping notes and records thereof, as well as engaging with the trustees in trustee meetings.


Please note that Rodel Fiduciary ensures that these services are tailor-made for each client, depending on individual circumstances. The abovementioned list is not exhaustive.

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