A trustee has the following main duties:
- Duty of care – a trustee must exercise reasonable care and skill when carrying out their role. This includes, for example, a duty to work with any fellow trustees and to actively consider and select appropriate investments that are in the best interests of the beneficiaries – taking advice as appropriate. A professional trustee (e.g., an accountant or lawyer) is held to a higher standard of care than a “lay” (i.e., non-professional) trustee.
- To follow the terms of the trust and take control of trust assets – a trustee must be clear on the terms of the trust, comply with its terms and secure all trust assets.
- To act impartially between beneficiaries –a trustee must treat the beneficiaries fairly and in accordance with the settlor’s wishes as set out in the trust deed.
- To provide information and accounting –the trustees must attend annual trustee meetings and keep a record of the discussion and decisions made in the meeting. The trustees may also be required to keep clear and up to date accounts for the trust and provide beneficiaries with core information about the trust.
- To avoid conflicts of interest – a trustee should ensure that their personal interests do not conflict with their role as trustee to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust.
- Not to make an unauthorised profit – the trust instrument may however permit a trustee to charge for their services.