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What are the responsibilities of a trustee?

The trustees are the legal owners of the assets held in a trust. It is the responsibility of the trustee to act in the interest of the beneficiaries, even where this conflicts with their own personal interests. Trustees can be held liable for breaches of the trust if they fail to carry out their duties diligently.

Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring trust property is registered in the name of all the trustees
  • Complying with the terms of the trust deed
  • Acting impartially between all beneficiaries
  • Distributing the trust funds
  • Keeping accounts
  • Completing the trust self-assessment returns
  • Paying any tax due – this may include income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax
  • Investing trust funds and changing the investments, within the terms of the trust and their powers as a trustee, as well as periodically reviewing the investments with the advice of an investment professional.

Professional trustees, who are paid for their services, are expected to meet a higher standard of care than other trustees.

Trustees can delegate some of their duties to an agent. If you are an individual trustee, it’s likely that you were appointed because of your personal connection to the settlor, rather than for your professional skills. Being able to delegate some of the more technical aspects of your role to a professional advisor could help you fulfil the role more easily. WMT can manage the tax and accounting aspects of a trustee’s role on your behalf.

Do you still have questions? Get in touch with our private client tax team to find out more about how they can help you.

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