A trustee is a person who is legally responsible for managing the assets held in a trust for the good or benefit of the beneficiaries. All trustees must be aged at least 18 years and mentally capable. Ideally, they should be financially responsible and although more than one trustee may be appointed it is preferable to have two, as three or more can be impractical. All the trustees must agree all management and action decisions.
The trustees are appointed in the document which creates the trust which could be either in a person’s will so that the trust operates after their death or during a person’s lifetime in a document known as a trust deed.
Trustees have various powers which are given to them by the general law, the will or trust deed or a combination of both. It is important that such powers are drafted correctly to ensure that the trustees have all the power they need in order to manage the trust fund efficiently.
Trustees must also carry out certain duties including:
- a duty to prudently invest the trust funds;
- a duty to act impartially between the beneficiaries;
- a duty to secure trust property; &
- a duty to keep records.
Trustees can retire from their roles providing there is another person to continue as trustee. Often the will or trust deed provides the rules as to retirement. However, if the document is silent on the subject then the law can help out. It is, therefore, very important to seek legal advice before retiring to ensure that the legal formalities are met. It is also worth knowing that retiring trustees can still be held responsible for actions carried out during the trusteeship, so it is vital legal advice is sought as soon as possible.
For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you either in our office or in your own home to talk through your requirements and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.