What does being a Trustee mean and entail?

Published 16 Nov 2017

The legal jargon surrounding wills and estates can be complicated, and one of the common terms discussed is trusts. There are multiple kinds of trusts in NSW, ranging from children's trusts to testamentary trusts.

The person who manages a trust is known as the 'trustee' - if you've been appointed trustee of someone else's estate or trust, it's important to know what that entails, as you will hold a great amount of responsibility. Let's take a closer look at the definition of trusts and trustees and outline what you will be responsible for doing.

What are trusts and trustees?

A trust, according to the NSW Trustee & Guardian, is a relationship between three people - the person creating the trust (settlor), the person administering the trust (trustee) and the person/people benefiting from the trust (beneficiary/ies). Trusts can be made in two ways:

  1. In a Will - this stipulates what will happen after the settlor dies.
  2. In a living deed/Declaration  - this can come into action before the settlor has passed.

Other than the person who created the trust, the trustee plays the most important role. He or she is expected to administer and manage the trust on behalf of the person who created it. This can be a huge responsibility, and some trustees choose to hand over their duties to the NSW Trustee & Guardian to manage the trust for the beneficiaries.

Duties of a trustee

If you've been delegated as a trustee for a will or living deed, you must be fully capable of administering the property and assets outlined in the trust. You must not be under the age of 18 and, in order to avoid biased decisions, you must not directly benefit from the trust itself - for example, a beneficiary may not also act as the trustee. Here are some of the typical duties a trustee must perform:

  • Administer the trust personally
  • Act impartially throughout all matters
  • Obey the terms of the trust
  • Safeguard trust property
  • Exercise reasonable care
  • Distribute the trust property correctly
  • Account and provide information

As you can see, being a trustee is no easy task, and there are many factors that must be considered. If you've been appointed as a trustee in NSW, it makes sense to seek guidance from an experienced Parramatta wills and estates lawyer who can give you the help you need.

At Malouf Solicitors, our team of qualified legal specialists are ready to assist. Reach out to us today for more information.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I remain extremely grateful for Maloufs legal representation related to my financial management of the estate of my brother and for your continuing help and advice in this matter. As an aside, I always recommend Maloufs to my friends and family members who are seeking the best legal representation - only last week, I strongly advised a close family friend that their best interests would be served by arranging an appointment at your Parramatta offices.
John of Parramatta NSW

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