Local Residents Warned of Risks of Single Trustee
Pauline Davies is advising local residents of the importance of naming more than one trustee, to ensure their final wishes are carried out, especially when a minor beneficiary is concerned.
Pauline Davies of Shrewsbury-based PCB Solicitors is urging those across the region to avoid appointing just one solo trustee to look after assets such as land, property or money on behalf of beneficiaries, to prevent any potential disagreements or wrongdoing.
The warning follows a recent court case that saw an aunt spend more than £30,000 of her niece's inheritance, after being appointed as the sole trustee of her brother's estate. The court heard that within a day of the funds being deposited into her account, the defendant spent over £3,000 on goods for herself, rather than administering the estate accordingly to the deceased's will.
Pauline Davies said: "This is a very unfortunate case in which an individual, who was the sole trustee of her brother's estate, grossly violated the responsibility given to her and subsequently spent a considerable sum of the inheritance intended for her niece. Although cases such as this are rare, it highlights the vital importance of naming more than one individual as a trustee, especially when such a large sum of money is concerned.
"In addition to the avoidance of fraud and personal profit, there are many other benefits of naming co-trustees. The role of a trustee can be very stressful and time-consuming, so sharing the responsibility of this can greatly reduce the pressure on an individual.
"A trustee must manage the estate on a day-to-day basis and decide how to invest the assets with the best interests of the beneficiary in mind, so naming trustees with complementary skills could make the task simpler. Also, if a trustee is faced with a potential dispute from an intended beneficiary, co-trustees can support each other in clarifying the decision. If anybody requires information or guidance about the process of naming trustees, I would urge them to contact a member of our team to find out more."