Cape widow faces loss of home after judge orders Master’s Office to sell property to pay creditors

File Photo: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

File Photo: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 21, 2023


Cape Town - A Cape Town widow is faced with losing her home after the Western Cape High Court ordered the Master of the High Court to decide on the manner and conditions of the sale of the Hout Bay property to pay her late husband’s creditors.

The case was brought to court by the executor of David Hartley’s estate, Eugene Bester.

Bester sought an order authorising him to sell the house, the main asset in Hartley’s estate, to raise enough funds to finalise the estate.

The estate’s main assets included the house, two cars, positive bank balances in various accounts, some furniture, and a claim against a debtor for £27 260 (R662 908) which the debtor stopped paying off in mid-2020 after he fell into financial difficulties.

The application was opposed by the widow and sole heir, Fulya Hartley, who argued that the sale would leave her homeless.

Bester’s challenge was that by the time the application was launched in October 2021, no liquid funds were available in the estate.

He told the court the most efficient way to raise cash to finalise an estate in such a situation was for the heir to make a cash contribution. However, Fulya had been unwilling to do so.

Bester considered other ways to raise funds, but none presented a viable solution.

He wrote to the Master’s Office and the justice minister for approval of the proposed manner and conditions of the sale. Failing to get a response after months, he approached the court for an order.

Under the Administration of Estates Act, such a sale requires the heir’s consent and, if such consent is not given, then the property is to be sold in a manner and on conditions approved by the Master.

Judge Kate Hofmeyr said while it was true that Fulya would be left without the Hout Bay home if the sale took place, she could have taken steps to avoid the sale of the house by selling the cars or otherwise obtaining funding, but hadn’t.

She directed the Master to decide on the manner and conditions of the sale of the property after taking representations from both Bester and Fulya.

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Cape Argus