Trustee Responsibilities

I have written in the past about the role I have of Trustee on a Testamentary Trust. This is a Trust that comes into existence upon the instructions of someone’s Will after their death. The other trustee (a lawyer) and I, look after our late client’s adult daughter through and with the assets of the Trust. Now they say that the real test of being a trustee comes when you make the unpopular decisions. Those that the beneficiary might not like.

The short story is that we have just finished changing the car that the trust owns for the beneficiary to drive around. The car used to be her father’s 2005 Mercedes Benz. We decided it was going to cost the Trust too much money going forward and that we wanted a new and economical car to last the next 20 years. So we decided to sell the Mercedes and buy a brand new Toyota Corolla Quest for our beneficiary to use.

Our beneficiary did not want to discuss the options because she was very unhappy about the plan. But we went ahead, unilaterally. Which we are entitled and expected to do according to the Trust Deed and our corresponding responsibilities. We were not popular, to say the least. But I know we have done the right thing long term. If anything, our late client would probably have chastised us for not doing it sooner.

This is proper and real Trust work, where no beneficiary is a trustee either. But the responsibility for the care of the assets and the beneficiary must not be underestimated. We both regularly consider resigning. But the beneficiary would then have the Master’s Office to deal with. Not a good idea. So we continue out of respect and trust.