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When someone sets up a trust, they appoint people as trustees to manage the trust and its assets. The trust deed will usually include specific instructions about how to do this but there are some general legal duties that apply to the role as well.
This guide explains some of the basics for settlors, beneficiaries, and trustees themselves.
Trustees must comply with the various Trustee Acts. A trustee owes duties of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and good faith to the beneficiaries of the trust. They must act exclusively in the best interests of the trust and be actively involved in any decisions.
The general duties of trustees are:
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Managing a trust can be complicated, with new and unexpected challenges arising every day. Every trustee can seek professional help with their duties to make sure they’re acting in the best interests of the trust and its beneficiaries.
You might consult:
Our specialist trusts solicitors can advise you on every aspect of your role as trustee, from day-to-day administration to disputes with beneficiaries or other trustees. Our tax, wealth structuring, and property experts can also help you get the most out of the trust for its beneficiaries.
If you or any other trustees are struggling to manage your duties, you can step down from your position and appoint us to serve as trustees in your place. Speak to our team on 0370 1500 100 to find out more about our professional trustee services.
If a trustee doesn’t comply with their duties and responsibilities, the trust beneficiaries can apply to the Court to have them removed. The Court can also direct the trustees on how to correctly administer the trust.
We can help beneficiaries who haven’t received an expected distribution from a trust. This could be because the trustees have declined to provide for them or because the trust assets have been poorly invested or used for other purposes.
We can also help you if you’ve been accused of failing in your duty as a trustee.
The trustees can appoint a replacement to succeed any trustees that agree to step down or retire from their position.
The Court can appoint replacements for any trustees that they remove for neglecting their duties.
If you don’t know anyone suitable to act as a replacement trustee, you can appoint us instead through our trust corporation. See our Trust Administration Services page to find out more.
For most trusts, the trustees must make decisions unanimously. This can cause problems if the trustees disagree about what’s best for the trust and its beneficiaries – unless you agree, you might not be able to do anything at all.
We can help trustees resolve disputes and help them get on with managing a trust. We can:
If necessary, we can take your dispute to court if we feel that other trustees are failing to act in the trust’s best interests. We can also defend you against such claims yourself.
See our Trusts Disputes page for more information about how we can help.
As explained above, we can help remove negligent trustees from a trust. But there may also be cases where you disagree with one of the trustees’ decision even if it doesn’t strictly contravene their duties or the conditions of the trust.
Our team are skilled negotiators and we can represent you in discussions with the trustees to help resolve your disagreement about the trust and find a solution that’s agreeable to everyone.
We may even be able to negotiate the replacement of trustees when your relationship has broken down.
If you have any other questions about how we can help trustees with their duties, or if you'd like us to act as a trustee for your trust, call us on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online.
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