Understanding your Duties and Expectations as a Trustee

Being a trustee bestows an important responsibility, but how clear are you on the duties and obligations of being a trustee if you were ever asked to be in that position.

In general terms, as a trustee you will be the legal owner of property, which you will hold and manage for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Fundamental to the trustee's role is to act at all times in the best interests of all of the
beneficiaries equally, ensuring no personal views and conflicts of interest impacts your decision making.

The role of the trustee is governed by general duties, the powers and duties in the trust deed and general law. It is an essential requirement to read, understand and act in accordance with the terms of the trust deed.

The trust assets will normally be registered in the names of all of the trustees, but there may be occasions when they are held by nominees; whether registered in the trustees name or not the trustees remain personally responsible for managing and safeguarding the assets.

In the general administration of the trust and the management of the trust assets the trustees will need to exercise reasonable care allied with a duty to keep proper records and provide those to beneficiaries on request.

In making decisions regular trustee contact and meetings are essential. Trustees should act unanimously in their decision making, unless the trust deed allows otherwise.

The Trustee Act 2000 places specific responsibilities on trustees in respect of investment of trust assets. The act requires the trustees to review and consider the suitability of the investments, considering the need to diversify and take account of the position of the individual beneficiaries under the terms of the trust. Please speak to your Planner if you need advice with making investment decisions as a trustee, to assist you to meet the obligations imposed by the act.

In general a trustee is not paid for their services, unless the trust deed permits, as is typically the case for professional trustee services. Recent legislation has imposed a new responsibility on trustees. In June of 2017 HMRC
launched an online trust register. There is a requirement for all trusts with UK tax liabilities to be registered and the self-assessment for tax returns now includes a tick box to confirm the online register is up to date.

This is not a comprehensive list of a trustee’s duties and responsibilities. If you need assistance with meeting your investment and tax obligations please contact Bellpenny’s tax team, in conjunction with your Financial Planner.