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Appointing Trustees in your Will
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Home / Further Information / Trusts / Appointing Trustees in your Will

What is a trustee?

A “trustee” is a person who is legally responsible for assets held in a “trust”. A “trust” is a legal arrangement used to protect assets, such as land, buildings or money for the benefit of the “beneficiaries” to the trust. Such assets are referred to as “trust property”. The trustees are legally responsible for the assets held in the trust and are required to manage the trust and carry out the wishes of the person whose assets were placed into trust. The person whose assets were placed into trust is known as the “settlor”.

How are trustees appointed in a will?

To appoint a trustee in your will you should name your choice of trustee in your will. Normally when a trust is created in a will the trustees and executors are the same people, although this doesn’t have to be the case.

How should I choose who to appoint as a trustee?

The trustee’s job involves a fair amount of work and responsibility. A person cannot be forced to take on the role of a trustee. For this reason it is a good idea before appointing a trustee to check whether the trustee of your choice would be willing and able to take on the role.

Trustees often have wide powers, for example when making decisions as to how to invest monies held under the trust. For this reason it is also a good idea to appoint someone who is trustworthy, impartial and has some experience in dealing with financial matters to act as a trustee.

A trustee can be a family member or a friend or a professional person such as a solicitor or an accountant. A professional trustee is allowed to charge for their work and their charges will be deducted from the proceeds of your estate.

How many trustees should I appoint?

There is nothing stopping you from appointing just one trustee. However, it is normal and preferable to appoint 2 or 3 trustees in case, for example one of your trustees dies before you.

Can I change the trustee I have appointed?

Sometimes it will become necessary to change the trustee you have appointed, for example if the trustee has died or is no longer willing or able to take on the role. If you want to change the trustee you have appointed you can do this by making a new will or by making a codicil.

What happens if a trustee isn’t appointed or my trustees refuse to take on the role or all die before me?

If you don’t appoint a trustee or your trustees refuse to take on the role or all die before you then the Court will appoint will appoint a trustee or trustees to manage the trust.

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If you are a couple and wish to leave all your assets to each other then you could save money by making  Mirror Wills. You can also use Mirror Wills if you whish to leave your estate to the same beneficiaries. 
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