If you leave part of your estate in trust to someone when you die, you will need to appoint a Trustee in your Will.
If you want someone to benefit from your money, property or other assets after your death, but you do not want them to have control or ownership themselves, then a Trustee can be put in place to look after the funds on behalf of the beneficiary of the Trust.
When to appoint a Trustee
If you have children who are under the age at which you want them to inherit your money, then a Trust can be set up so that they can be provided for as necessary, without having direct access to the money themselves.
You can choose the age at which you would like them to inherit, for example, 18 or 25. Until that time, your Trustee would administer the Trust Fund, investing the money and authorising payments, for example, for education or living costs.
Property can also be put into a Trust. This is a useful way of allowing a spouse or partner to live in your home after your death, without leaving the property to them. By giving them a life interest, they are able to stay there as long as they want or need, but after their death, the property will pass to whoever you leave it to in your Will, often your children.
This can ensure that the value of your home passes to your children or other chosen beneficiaries rather than to someone of your spouse’s choosing. It can also prevent the property from being sold to pay for your spouse’s care home costs.
The role of Trustee
Once the Executor appointed under the terms of the Will is able to distribute the estate, the assets or property will be transferred to the Trustee to be held in trust for the beneficiaries.
The terms of the trust will be set out in the Will so that the Trustee knows what is expected of them and what the wishes of the deceased were.
More than one Trustee can be appointed to act and it is usual to choose at least two. This is a legal requirement where a trust contains property and it also reduces the likelihood of there being no Trustee, should one of them die before you.
Trustees are required to act with honesty, integrity and good faith towards the beneficiaries and conduct all dealings with reasonable care and skill.
It is a good idea to talk your intentions through with them and make sure that they are willing and able to take on the role. Professional Trustees, such as experienced trust solicitors, can be appointed if you do not have anyone suitable to ask.
It is always a good idea to take legal advice before setting up a Trust as it can have long-lasting implications for your estate and your beneficiaries.