Category Archives: Property law

Dealing with marriage and estate planning

A2It is important to understand the legal implications of the marital property regime, especially when drafting a Last Will and Testament and also when entering into a marriage, as the regime chosen by the estate planner is going to affect his/her assets.

The most important forms of marriage are: marriage in community of property, marriage out of community of property (without accrual), and marriage out of community of property (with accrual).

Marriage in community of property

  1. There is no prior contractual arrangement, apart from getting married;
  2. Spouses do not have two distinct estates;
  3. There is a joint estate, with each spouse having a 50% share in each and every asset in the estate (no matter in whose name it is registered);
  4. Applies to assets acquired before the marriage and during the marriage;
  5. Should one spouse incur debts in his own name it will automatically bind his/her spouse, who will also become liable for the debt;
  6. If a sequestration takes place (in the case of insolvency), the joint estate is sequestrated.

Marriage out of community of property without the accrual system

  1. An antenuptial contract (ANC) is drawn up by an attorney (who is registered as a notary), before the marriage;
  2. Where there is no contract, the marriage is automatically in community of property;
  3. The values of each spouse’s estate on going into the marriage are stipulated in the contract;
  4. A marriage by ANC means that all property owned by spouses before the date of the marriage will remain the sole property of each spouse;
  5. Each spouse controls his/her own estate exclusively without interference from the other spouse, although each has a duty to contribute to the household expenses according to his/her means;
  6. To allow for assets acquired by spouses during the marriage to remain the sole property of each spouse, the accrual system must be specifically excluded in the ANC.

Marriage out of community of property with the accrual system

  1. The accrual system automatically applies unless expressly excluded in the antenuptial contract;
  2. The accrual system addresses the question of the growth of each spouse’s estate after the date of marriage.

ESTATE PLANNING

Donations between spouses are exempt from donations tax and estate duty.

Marriage in community of property

  1. In the event of the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse will have a claim for 50% of the value of the combined estate, thus reducing the actual value of the estate by 50%. The estate is divided after all the debts have been settled in a deceased estate (not including burial costs and estate duty, as these are the sole obligations of the deceased and not the joint estate).
  2. When drafting a Last Will and Testament, spouses married in community of property need to be aware that it is only half of any asset that he or she is able to bequeath.
  3. Upon the death of one spouse, all banking accounts are frozen (even if they are in the name of one of the spouses), which could affect liquidity.
  4. Donations or bequests to someone married in community of property can be made to exclude the community of property; in other words, if the donor stipulates that the donation must not fall into the joint estate, then the donee can build up a separate estate. However, returns on such separate assets will go back to the joint estate.

Marriage out of community of property without the accrual system

Each estate planner (spouse) retains possession of assets owned prior to the marriage.

Marriage out of community of property with the accrual system

A donation from one spouse to the other spouse is excluded from the calculation of each spouse’s accrual; in other words, the recipient does not include it in his growth and the donor’s accrual is automatically reduced by the donation amount.

DIVORCE

In the event of divorce, the marriage will be dissolved by court decree, which will address such aspects as child maintenance, access, guardianship and custody, spousal maintenance, the division of assets, division of pension interests and so on.

COHABITATION AND DEFINITION OF “SPOUSE”

Cohabitation is defined as a stable, monogamous relationship where a couple who do not wish to or cannot get married, live together as spouses. The Taxation Laws Amendment Act has extended the definition of “spouses” to include “a same sex or heterosexual union which the Commissioner is satisfied is intended to be permanent”.

Many pieces of legislation, including the Pension Funds Amendment Act and the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, now define spouse to include a partner in a cohabitative relationship, the effects of which are that cohabitees will benefit from the Section 4(q) estate duty deduction in the Estate Duty Act, and the donations tax exemptions of the Income Tax Act.

Copyright © Succeed Group. All rights reserved | Contact Us at info@succeedgroup.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

 

Sale of immovable property and the national credit act

CIt often happens during a sale of immovable property that the parties agree to a deferred payment of the purchase price. The purchaser will then pay the purchase price in instalments and the seller will charge interest on the outstanding amount from time to time. Sometimes the parties even agree to the registration of a bond over the property to secure the payment of the purchase price.

What the parties don’t keep in mind, however, is that this agreement between the parties constitutes a credit transaction as defined in the National Credit Act (hereinafter called the Act) and that in certain circumstances the seller will have to register as a credit provider in terms of the Act.

To establish if the Act will be applicable and if the seller should register as a credit provider one should carefully consider the following:

1. The Act will apply to all written credit agreements between parties dealing at arm’s length. This is probably to curb underhand dealings between family members at the peril of other third parties.

2. Arm’s length transactions are not defined in the Act but they exclude, for example, transactions between family members who are dependent or co-dependent on each other and any arrangement where each party is not independent of the other and does not strive to obtain the utmost possible advantage out of the transaction.

The Act does not apply where:

1. The consumer is a juristic person whose annual turnover or asset value is more than R1m;

2. The purchaser is the State or an organ of the State;

3. A large agreement (i.e. more than R250 000, such as a mortgage) is entered into with a juristic person whose asset value or turnover is less than R1m.

A credit agreement includes a credit facility, credit transaction and credit guarantee or a combination of these. The relevance is the following:

1. A credit facility requires fees or interest to be paid;

2. A credit transaction does not necessarily require interest or fees to be paid. An instalment agreement would suffice to qualify as a credit transaction.

3. An instalment agreement is defined and relates only to the sale of movable property.

4. A credit transaction also includes any other agreement where payment of an amount owed is deferred and interest or fees are charged.

A mortgage agreement qualifies as a credit transaction [Section 8(4)(d)] and the importance is that mortgage is defined in the Act as a pledge of immovable property that serves as security for a mortgage agreement. Mortgage agreement is also defined as a credit agreement secured by a pledge of immovable property.

Section 40 of the Act requires one to register as a credit provider should you have at least 100 credit agreements as credit provider OR if the total principal debt under all credit agreements exceeds R500 000. Principal debt means the amount deferred and does not include interest or other fees.

It follows that if you sell your home to an individual in a private sale (i.e. where he does not get a bond from the bank) and you register a bond as security, you have to register as a credit provider UNLESS the principal debt is less than R500 000 or the buyer is a juristic person and the price is more than R250 000.

The implications for the seller could be far-reaching if he is not registered, as the agreement will be unlawful and void, and a court must order that:

1. The credit agreement is void as from the date the agreement was entered into;

2. The credit provider must refund to the purchaser any money paid by the purchaser under the credit agreement, together with interest;

3. All the purported rights of the credit provider under the credit agreement to recover any money paid or goods delivered to, or on behalf of the purchaser in terms of the agreement, are either cancelled or forfeited to the State.

The application form to register as a credit provider and also the calculation of the registration fee that is payable to the National Credit Regulator (NCR) can be found on the NCR’s website. If the seller has not registered by the time he enters into the loan agreement he may still register within 30 days after entering into the loan agreement.

Sellers, be careful when you enter into these types of agreements, as non-compliance with the Act could be a costly exercise.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.

Estate agents commission

01
A problem that frequently occurs in practice and which is not easy to solve is whether an agent was in fact instrumental in bringing about the sale of the property. It could happen that an agent introduces a prospective buyer, that negotiations for the sale do not succeed and that another agent succeeds in concluding the agreement. It is common practice for more than one agent to be instructed to find a purchaser. It could even happen that a seller is held responsible for paying commission to two agents.

An estate agent is not an agent in the strict sense of the word.  His “mandate” is normally to find a suitable purchaser for the seller’s property and not to sell on behalf of the seller. This is, however, not a contract in the usual sense where parties undertake reciprocal obligations. In fact, the agent is not obliged to perform his mandate. An estate agent will only be entitled to commission if he has a mandate from the seller; without the mandate he is not entitled to commission even though he might have been the effective cause of the transaction.

An estate agent will be considered to be the effective cause of the transaction when:

  • he has introduced a willing and financially able buyer to the seller;
  • a binding contract has been concluded between the parties; and
  • the transaction takes place at the stipulated price or at a price acceptable to the seller.

When several estate agents are involved in introducing the buyer to the seller it might be difficult for the court to determine which agent was the effective cause. For instance, when estate agent A introduces the buyer to the seller but the buyer later purchases the property through estate agent B after B has persuaded the seller to drop the price.

Estate agent A may have a sole mandate, but estate agent B introduced a willing and able buyer. The seller could then be liable for both estate agents’ commission. A sole mandate usually stipulates that the agent is entitled to commission if the property is sold during the currency of the agreement, even if another agent introduced the buyer.

In another matter a prospective buyer was introduced and the house was inspected. The price was considered too high. A few months later the purchaser noticed that the house was still in the market. He then bought the property without any intervention from the agent at a slightly lower price than the price he had rejected earlier. The estate agent was held to be entitled to his commission.

How much commission is an estate agent entitled to? The average commission ranges up to 7.5%, however there are no regulations as to how much commission an estate agent should be paid per sale. The commission should be discussed by the parties when negotiating the mandate.

Sole mandates that are given to estate agents are regulated by the Consumer Protection Act. The duration of the agreement may not exceed 24 months.  The seller has the right to cancel the agreement by giving 20 business days’ notice in writing. If the mandate is not terminated by the seller on the expiry date it will automatically continue on a month-to-month basis.

Seller, be wary of these pitfalls when selling your property – they could be very costly.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as 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 financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.