Trusts in Wills
Many Wills may have a Trust written into them but there is often confusion surrounding the reasons why it was included and what it means.
It is important to remember that although the Trust in the Will is treated as coming into effect when a person dies, there may be some decisions for the named Trustees to make and it may be necessary for legal documents to be drafted to set up the Trust appropriately. This is not a job for the lay executor, it is a reserved legal activity for the regulated legal profession.
A Trust that is contained in a Will comes into effect when the Executors who have administered the estate transfer the assets (such as money or land) into the hands of Trustees. The Trustees are the legal owners of these assets but are not entitled to any benefits of the Trust, unless they are named as a beneficiary themselves. The Trustees are obliged to hold and manage the property for the benefit of a person or a group of people, who are called beneficiaries.
Trustees who are named in a Will have the option to take up their role or they can choose to retire their duty as Trustee if they so wish. The power of appointing a new Trustee lies with them, in most instances. For Trusts involving land, at least two Trustees must be appointed.
There are several types of Trusts but the most commonly used include Trusts for minors, Life-interest Trusts and Discretionary Trusts.
If you are named as an Executor and Trustee in a Will, do you understand what responsibility you have? If not, I would suggest you should find out.
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