The role of Trustee encompasses a range of responsibilities, duties and powers – and it’s important these are sustained to maintain the integrity of the Trust. Here, we explore what a Trustee position involves and advise how these duties and powers can best be upheld.
A Trust is an arrangement where one or more people (the Trustees) hold property for another person or group of people (the Beneficiaries). The idea behind a Trust is the concept of duty; the Trustees are under a duty to deal with the property in the interests of the Beneficiaries. If they fail in this duty, they will be in breach of trust and the Beneficiaries can ask the Court to make sure the terms of the Trust are carried out.
These depend on the terms of the Will or Trust Deed, but can include power to pay capital to a Beneficiary, to pay income to a Beneficiary, to delegate the investment of a Trust fund to an Agent or Manager, in certain situations, and to appoint an Attorney to act for a limited period.
Firstly, there is a duty to register the Trust with HMRC on the Trust Registration Service and to keep those records up to date. There are financial penalties if these rules are not complied with.
It is very important that you keep records. Examples of documents that should be kept include:
It is vital to keep records of any important decisions made by the Trustees, including explanations of any payments made out of the Trust. It’s also wise to hold annual meetings to consider the Trust’s assets and the needs of the Beneficiaries, and to keep the Minutes of this meeting.
The most important points to remember are to make sure that any actions you take are within the terms of the Trust set up in the Will or Trust Deed, hold annual meetings and record your decisions about the Trust, keep records and plan ahead. If there’s a possibility that any of the Trustees might be unable to act as a Trustee in the future, either for reasons of age, ill-health or a change in their situation, you should obtain legal advice as to the best steps to take.
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