Trustee duty

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If you need advice about a trustee role

When someone sets up a trust, they appoint trustees to manage that trust and its assets on behalf of one or more beneficiaries. This can be a complex role, particularly if there are lots of trustees and beneficiaries involved. If you’re a trustee, you might start to wonder if you’re doing things the right way. How and when should you be completing tax returns? How should you make decisions about the trust’s assets? And what do you do if trustees can’t agree?

Trustees must act in the best interests of the trust

The law says that trustees have a duty of care towards beneficiaries. If you’re worried that you don’t have the necessary skills or knowledge to manage a trust, it’s part of your remit to consult professionals who can help – such as accountants and solicitors. Trustees must act in the trust’s best interests and take an active part in any decision-making. The law also says that trustees must act unanimously. If they can’t agree, it’s possible to bring in a dispute resolution service – but serious disagreements could end up in court.

How we can help

If you’re not sure what your trustee responsibilities are, our team of legal experts can help. We can talk you through the laws around trusts, and how to make sure you’re sticking to the rules set out in the trust deed. If you’re involved in a dispute, we can suggest how you might be able to find a resolution. And we can give you guidance on what to tell a beneficiary if they’re asking questions about a trust in their name.

We’ll:

  • explain the laws around the trustee role
  • help you understand what a beneficiary is entitled to know
  • advise you on how to resolve disagreements between trustees

 All advice contained within this section relates to England and Wales only.

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Meet your experts
Paul Hanford Sq Paul Handford With over 20 years of varied legal experience, Paul now specialises in private client work, which includes drawing up wills, deeds of trust, lasting powers of attorney. See profile
Ben Rosser Sq Ben Rossor Ben joined Which? Legal in 2015 as a wills and probate specialist. Ben trained and qualified in private practice and now advises on a range of legal issues, including estate administration. See profile
Sarah Henley Sq Sarah Henley Sarah trained and worked in private practice in Bristol before joining Which? Legal as a qualified solicitor in January 2018. Sarah provides advice to members on Wills and Powers of Attorney. See profile
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