What liabilities do I have as a beneficiary of a Trust?
Question from Gayna Vetter updated on 6th December 2007:
Our expert responded:
Firstly, you cannot 'inherit' a trust in the way that you are referring to - either you are a beneficiary of the trust, or not. Ultimately, any liability sits with whoever are the Trustees of the Trust are. Their job is to manage the assets of the trust to the best of their abilities, as a prudent person might do, and ensure that they operate in the best interests of all of the beneficiaries. In looking to discharge their obligations, the trustees will need to take into account all of the beneficiaries, not just one. In this case, should the beneficiary living in the house be unable to make rent payments, yet the trust was primarily set up to look after this beneficiary, then it may be that after considering the wishes of the settler of the trust, that the Trustees no longer require the beneficiary to make rent payments and pass the appropriate resolutions to action this. Regardless, there is no liability for any of the other beneficiaries - this sits with the trustees. In a case such as this, I would advise that you take advice from a specialist trust solicitor to ensure the right actions are taken, especially if you are a trustee.
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Kenina Court is a director of Acorn Solutions Limited, an accounting firm dedicated to working with clients to help them create wealth. She is an avid property investor, entrepreneur and seminar presenter on asset protection and wealth strategies.