WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID IT INFLUENCE YOU?
I grew up in Mayfair, Johannesburg, which was home to low-income families of the day, most of whom had Russian Jewish ancestry. It was a close community clustered around the synagogue where much of the community-building happened. So, mine was not a privileged upbringing in the material sense but I was part of a typical Jewish family. My father was head of the family, my mother was head of the house and my grandparents lived with us.
My parents were hard working people who ensured my brother and I had everything we needed to get ahead in life – a moral compass, traditional Jewish values, a good education and the drive to succeed. I have very fond memories of those times!
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE LAW AS A CAREER?
Both the Torah and the Bible reflect our turbulent history as Jews. We have learned that in the face of persecution, the one thing you can carry with you is your education. That said, Springbok radio is responsible for my choosing law. From the age of six, I never missed an episode of ‘Consider Your Verdict’! I took an avid interest in the weighing up of the legal arguments in relation to the court findings and it got me hooked on law.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SPECIALISE IN TRUSTS, WILLS AND ESTATE PLANNING?
I believe we need to take care of those we love, in a constructive and efficient way. The many dual-income households of this day and age, indicate that it’s difficult to survive on a single income. When the primary earner dies, how will the surviving family members manage financially if there is no back-up plan to see them through?
When heads of households step up to the plate, it demonstrates they care deeply about the ongoing welfare of their families. It’s not about how much money a person has, it’s about doing the best with what you have. Trusts or life insurance policies are geared to provide financial support to families while the process of winding up the estate takes its course. These mechanisms help mitigate financial hardship through an already difficult, emotional time.
The current reality is that it could take a couple of years to wind up an estate through the Master of the High Court because the Master’s offices are critically backlogged – owing in part to volumes, manpower and efficiencies. When monies to be dispersed form part of a Will, they could be frozen and inaccessible indefinitely. If ever there was a time (and a way) to circumvent the Master’s offices, it is now!
If covid has taught us anything, it’s the impact of unexpected loss. People need to get ahead of the threat and ensure that their dependents are not left to suffer the consequences of procrastination. And covid is by no means the only threat, who knows with any certainty what today may bring?
IN A NUTSHELL, HOW ARE TRUSTS USEFUL?
Trusts are an independent legal entity that offer security and protection on multiple levels. They resonate with the entrepreneurial goals that help direct one’s unique ability to make a difference.
Trusts, as part of an estate plan, have the power to provide freedom of money, time, association and purpose. When those four principles come together, they determine the strategy to achieve those freedoms.
Such is my faith in trusts, I’m in the process of writing a booklet that explains the function and the benefits of trusts in a manner that makes it more accessible to laypeople. Legal jargon is off-putting and confusing to most folk, I’d like to enable them to view trusts in a more positive, comprehensible light.
HOW HAS JUDAISM SHAPED YOU?
There is a strong sense of brotherhood amongst Jewish people which makes us particularly community minded. We are especially family minded and like to stay close to our children and parents, hence the importance of Friday night Shabbat dinners. We care for each other through moral, financial and material support, we mentor younger people, refer business to one another and try to alleviate suffering where we can.
The book of Psalms has a special place in my heart. I was once involved in curating a limited edition, collector’s book of Psalms in which Psalm 117 was dedicated to my family. It’s a very short psalm that is a call to all mankind, summoning them to pay homage to God and acknowledge Him as the Master of the universe.
WHAT ELSE HAS HAD A ROLE IN SHAPING YOU AS A PERSON?
Judo. I started when I was 12 years old and found it to be a very noble sport. I highly recommend it for youngsters as it teaches discipline, co-ordination, obedience, comradeship and respect (for a higher authority and one another). Learning how to use controlled aggression as the basis for self defence is useful for staying out of trouble – no bullies ever picked on me at school! I ultimately advanced to a 6th. dan black belt. I was, for many years, involved in martial arts in an administrative capacity and am currently in the throes of setting up a martial arts trust.
WHAT ELSE INTERESTS YOU?
I developed a love for art in the mid-1980’s, African art in particular. I’m drawn to bright colours and African abstract art just seems to pulsate with colour and energy. There isn’t a wall in my office that doesn’t have an artwork adorning it! Thando Ngwenya is one of my favourite artists, he seems to capture South Africa emerging from the struggle in a positive way.
DO YOU INTEND TO RETIRE IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
No, I enjoy my job too much! I like to have a reason to get up in the morning and a place to go. I’m determined to keep my mind and body in good working order for as long as I am able. I also have a great support team that keeps me on my toes. They play a pivotal role in the proficiency and performance of my business.