This is an area where people often get confused so do not hesitate to contact our helpline if that is the case. Executors wind up the estate and distribute everything according to the Will but once the estate is distributed the Executors have discharged their duties. If any assets may not be handed directly to a beneficiary for any reason – perhaps they are too young or there is a Trust in place – then the on-going control of those assets is given to Trustees. Having said that, Executors become the Trustees if no other provision is made in the Will. You may appoint different people to be Trustees to the people you appoint as Executors if that is appropriate. Anyone appointed must be at least 18 years of age of be capable of performing their duties. Please use the READ MORE link for further information. You may also wish to watch the video or call the helpline.
when to appoint executors and trustees separately
As an example children currently aged 22 and 20 might be required by the Will to wait until they are 25 to take their inheritance. If the clients die unexpectedly in the foreseeable future then they may be perfectly happy for the children to act as Executors but may wish others to act as Trustees. This might help preserve the integrity of their wishes in regard to control of the money until the children attain the age of 25. If the Trustees are also the Beneficiaries that may not be the case!
Another example might be where it is wished for Guardians, who have not been appointed as Executors, to be involved with financial matters. If so, then they must be appointed separately as Trustees, perhaps working alongside others, in addition to their appointment as Guardians because – as Guardians – they have no automatic involvement with looking after the money.
There are other circumstances that might suggest a separate appointment of Trustees and we shall be pleased to advise as required.
duties of trustees
Trustees have responsibilities and powers under the law and also according to the terms of any trust in the Will. They have a duty to make sure they understand what is required of them in the performance of their function. The first thing is to read the Will as the terms of any trust will be found there. If there is a separate Letter Of Wishes this should also be studied by the Trustees.
Trustees must act with “reasonable care and skill” and beneficiaries are able to call them to account and may take legal action against them if they have acted inappropriately. Professional advice should always be sought in regard to investing funds. Care must be taken to act in the best interests of all the Beneficiaries. Even where Trustees have power to favour one beneficiary over another, such as in a Discretionary Trust, they must still normally consider the impact of any decision on other beneficiaries.
All Trustees are to be involved in running the Trust. The Trust assets and the needs of the beneficiaries should be reviewed at least once every year and at other times as required. Proper accounts should be kept and minutes of meetings should also be prepared. All this information should be available to the beneficiaries.