In our Ask The Legal Expert column we get the latest specialist advice from JCP Solicitors. This month, Mike Downey, Director and Head of Lifetime Planning in South East Wales, based in JCP’s Caerphilly office, discusses Trusts.
I want to make a Trust as part of my Will, allowing my sister to look after the interests of my son, who has some addiction problems so he cannot deal with money well. He and my sister are close, but she feels she would need some support in this role. What would you suggest?
This is a common scenario and a Trustee’s role involves quite a bit of responsibility, so it is a good idea to choose Trustees with different skills (often you would need to have at least two trustees) and bear in mind that your Solicitor can be one of those Trustees. I can understand why you would want a close family member to offer continuity to your son but having a Solicitor in the mix might be a sound choice, since they would be impartial.
Having professional trustees can also help reduce the chance of clashes of opinion when the Trust is being administered, for example if you have a blended family. Clearly, it helps to have a legal professional on board too when you have to make decisions within a legal framework. There’s no limit to the number of Trustees you can appoint, and it is sensible to think about the kind of expertise different people might bring to the table, but they need to be unanimous in their decision-making. So it is a good idea to choose trustees who can work well together.
Trusts come in many forms, and they can be used to protect money and other assets for beneficiaries under a variety of circumstances. A Trust is simply a way of managing assets. The parties involved in a Trust are; The Settlor – the person who sets up the Trust by putting the money or property into the Trust, the Trustees, who are the people you entrust to look after that money or property, and the Beneficiaries, the person or people who you wish to benefit from that money or property.
Trusts must be tailored to suit individual circumstances, so they function well. It is important to seek expert legal advice from a specialist as Trusts have tax and other legal consequences that can trap the unwary.
JCP’s Lifetime Planning team is always on hand for tailored and professional legal support. For specialist advice, call Mike Downey on: 02920 855277 or firstname.lastname@example.org The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.