Articles by The Professional Trustee Team
Trusts hail from medieval times and one can be forgiven for thinking current trust law has been on our statute books since that time too. A combination of legislation, common law judgements and equity maxims result in the law being antiquated and complex.This frequently makes trust law difficult to comprehend and, in some cases, problematic to apply. To remedy these ills, a Trust Bill is currently tracking its way through Parliament. It's already had its second reading on 9 May 2019 and is presently with the Committee of the Whole House.
This will make it easier for all trustees to appreciate and perform their roles and will enable beneficiaries to understand the scope and nature of trustees' obligations. Some duties will be mandatory. Others will be able to be modified. Consequences for breach of duties will be clearly stated. This may result in greater time and cost being incurred by trustees on matters and activities they're undertaking.2. Life of Trust Extended
The statute will lay down the documents trustees must keep. These are expected to be the deed of trust, deeds noting changes to trustees, documents altering provisions of the trust deed, documentation describing the trust's assets and liabilities, records detailing trustees' decision-making, accounting and financial statements, and memoranda of wishes to name but a few. Trustees will need to hold these documents throughout their term and then pass them onto new trustees when they themselves retire. This will lead to the need to store and access trust documents, which for many lay person trustees, will be burdensome.4. Beneficiaries to be Advised
The new legislation will change our trust law and bring increased certainty and transparency I believe. The statute will in no way be a complete codification of law but will undoubtedly be an improvement on the prevailing patchwork of branches of law we currently have to work with. In the first instance I expect trustees will need to consider the statute's implications to the trusts under their control and in the second, diligently ensure they meet their trustee duties, which we can help with at GRA.
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