Are you the trustee or a beneficiary of an Estate? Read on.

Are you the trustee or a beneficiary of an Estate? Read on.

A trustee of an Estate holds a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the Estate. This means that the trustee can only act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. In other words it is not open to the trustee to use any of the assets of an Estate for any other purpose. 

In addition to the above, trustees have a duty to act in good faith and exercise due care and skill. Where a trustee fails to adhere to these standards, then it is open to a court to either make an order removing the person from their role as trustee, or to hold them personally liable for any loss to the beneficiaries arising from their actions as trustee. 

In light of the above, it is important for trustees to seek legal advice for clarification of their responsibilities and the manner in which they are to be discharged. Obtaining professional advice (eg legal, accounting, taxation, financial etc) will ordinarily be an Estate expense and reimbursable to the trustee from Estate funds. By extension, a trustee ought not ‘go it alone’ to minimise costs where the consequences for doing so could potentially be much greater for the trustee if mistakes are made. This is particularly the case where there may be contentious issues such as a potential family provision claim, or acrimonious relations with or between beneficiaries. 

The role of a Trustee is often fraught with risk. It can be highly scrutinised, and for good reason. If you are a trustee and require information about your obligations, or if you are a beneficiary and have concerns about a trustee’s actions, then now is the time to get in touch. We recommend that in the first instance you discuss your situation with us in our SmartMove initial 30-minute discounted consultation (in person or by telephone), which we offer for $80 and which can be booked through our website or by simply getting in touch. Austral Legal. Practical advice.