This is the second article in our Trust Series.
Basic trust information
There is now a presumption that Trustees will provide Beneficiaries with ‘basic trust information’. This information consists of:
- The fact that a person is a Beneficiary of the trust
- The name and contact details of each Trustee
- Real time details of appointment, removed and retirement of trustees
- Beneficiary rights to request further information.
Beneficiary requests for further information
Having been advised that one is a beneficiary of a trust, natural curiosity will, at best, result in considerably more requests from Beneficiaries for the supply of further trust information.
This information, in general terms of the Act, may include:
- The terms of the Trust
- Past administration of the Trustees
- What assets are held by the Trustees in the Trust; or
- Other information which will enable the Beneficiaries to assess the Trustee’s actions in administering the Trust.
Can a Trustee withhold information?
There are a number of factors Trustees must consider before disclosing trust information to a Beneficiary. These include:
- The nature of the Beneficiaries’ interest
- The likelihood of them receiving a share of the Trust fund
- The Settlor’s expectations at the time of creation
- Age and circumstances of the beneficiary
- The effect on family relationships following disclosure
- The practicality of giving all beneficiaries information
- The nature and context around a request for information.
Having taken into account these factors, Trustees may then decide to withhold some or all trust information and for some or all of the beneficiaries.
Many Trustees will not welcome this increased scrutiny of their actions but there is no question that Trustees must turn their minds at regular intervals as to whether or not to provide this information.
If you have any questions about the matters raised in these articles, please call to discuss further.
Also in this edition:
Lifelaw December Newsletter
Click here for other Lifelaw articles.