Trust Disputes

We help with trust disputes including the removal of trustees, and claiming money from a trust.
Trust Disputes

How we can help

trust disputes frequently asked questions

Whilst the person who set up the trust may have taken legal advice at the time, if they are no longer involved in the trust (e.g. they have passed away) then that advice is unlikely to assist anyone who is named as a trustee or beneficiary if a problem arises. If you have concerns about a trust either as a trustee or beneficiary then you should take legal advice as soon as possible. Trustees have a great deal of legal obligations set out in so it’s important that they take action quickly to avoid being personally responsible for any losses causes to the trust.
A trustee must at all times act in the best interests of the trust. They must act with honesty, integrity and in good faith. They must act in accordance with the terms of the trust deed and to do otherwise which amount to a breach of trust. E.g. a trustee is not allowed to pay money out to anyone who is not named as a beneficiary of the trust, even if they think they are doing the right thing. Trustees must also ensure that there is no conflict between their interests and those of the trust e.g. selling trust assets to themselves at a price much lower than the market value. They should also act impartially between the beneficiaries and not prefer one over the other, unless the trust deed specially permits it.
If a rogue trustee is failing in their duties then either their fellow trustees or beneficiaries of the trust can request that a trustee voluntarily steps down. As long as there are enough trustees remaining then the trustee can simply retire or else they can appoint someone else in their place before stepping down.
If a beneficiary of a bare trust is over the age of 18 years then they can simply ask the trustees to pay the money out to them that they are entitled to. As long as there is no other criteria to satisfy, the trustees should not refuse. If they do, they may be in breach of trust and a beneficiary could have them removed as trustees. Alternatively, if all beneficiaries are adults and they are in agreement, the trust could simply be wound up.
Ultimately, if a discretionary beneficiary wants money from the trust then they have to ask the trustees. The trustees may ask for further information as to reasons for the request, possibly to check to see if the money is to be used for one of the purposes set out in any letter of wishes (e.g. pay for university fees, buy a house). The trustees must consider any request made from a beneficiary properly and the trustees must all agree whether to accept or refuse it. The trustees are entitled to refuse a beneficiary’s request and they do not have to give reasons for their decision though they should make a record of their decisions and keep proper trust accounts.

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