What are the powers and duties of a trustee?
A trustee is legally responsible for assets held in a trust and are required to manage the trust in accordance with the settlor's wishes (the settlor is the person whose monies/assets were placed into the trust).
A trustee must:
- Deal with the trust in accordance with the will or trust deed;
- Manage the trust (which includes deciding how to invest trust property and/or as to how the trust property is to be used)
- Keep the trust property safe.
- Act impartially and fairly to all beneficiaries;
- Act with reasonable care and skill;
- Ensure trust assets are secure;
- Keep sufficient records in order to show that the trust has been managed properly;
- Not benefit himself/herself.
The powers of the trustee are provided by law and will also normally be set out in the will or trust deed. Typically they have the following powers:
- To invest monies held in the trust;
- To delegate certain powers to professional bodies (such as solicitors or accountants);
- To insure trust property;
- To be paid for their work (where they are a professional trustee, such as a solicitor or accountant).
Can a trustee be removed?
In certain circumstances trustees can be removed from office. The trust document should be checked to see if a power to remove trustees has been given or reserved. Otherwise, unless the trustee agrees to retire, the only option is an application to court seeking an order that the trustee is removed. The court will not however interfere with a trust without good reasons.
How much will a trust dispute cost?
It is difficult to say how much the total cost of such a dispute will be as it will depend upon what work needs to be undertaken and how the other parties deal with the claim.
The overall cost of court proceedings can however vary from a few thousand pounds to many tens of thousands of pounds. Depending on the circumstances of the case, we generally always try and settle our cases outside of court to keep costs to a minimum for our clients. This also means our clients have as much control as they can over any settlement reached.
We appreciate that the cost of obtaining legal advice or pursuing or defending a claim is often of most concern to clients. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we may be able to offer you alternative funding options, such as "no win, no fee" or a deferred payment arrangement.
Contact our Disputed Wills and Trusts Team on freephone 0800 0931336, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation chat to see how we can help you.