15 August 2013 by

It’s all a Matter of Trust

Wills are something to which we would all prefer to give little thought. The question of who to appoint as executors and trustees in a Will even less so. There is an often held view that a spouse/civil partner or child will be best placed to administer the estate. Unfortunately, death can put a strain on even the closest family relationships. Appointing executors and trustees with conflicting personal interests may not always be such a good idea, therefore.

Such problems were illustrated in a recent High Court case involving the John Barry Wild Will Trust. Mr Wild created a discretionary trust during his lifetime, appointing his wife, Susan, his children Ian and Julia and his accountant, to act as his trustees. Mr Wild’s intention was for the trust to benefit his wife after his death, but the trustees could also benefit his children.

Following a series of disagreements at trustee meetings his wife Susan and one of his children Julia made an application to the Court to remove Ian as a trustee. Ian was refusing any distributions from the Trust to benefit his mother. They believed that Ian was allowing his personal interests to influence his decisions as a trustee.

Even though Mr Wild attempted to appoint a fourth independent trustee, in his accountant, the practical outcome of this appointment was that the accountant would have had had very little influence over the administration of the trust, due to the presence and discretion of the other trustees.

The Judge agreed with Susan and Julia and ordered Ian’s removal as a trustee. An order for costs was made against him as well. Not only were there significant legal and court costs in making the application, but also a family dispute arose which, sadly, is unlikely ever to be resolved.

So, it’s a lesson to us all when thinking about who to appoint as trustees. If the primary purpose is to look after your spouse/civil partner during their lifetime, you should consider appointing him or her and someone independent (such as your solicitor), to avoid the risk of oppression of the survivor, whilst giving the trust the best chance of achieving your objectives.

8 August 2013 by

Driving Down the Cost of your Freehold – Your Options for Securing the Best Deal

When a landlord wants to sell the freehold it must first be offered to the tenants under their collective ‘Right of First Refusal’.

13 August 2013 by

When Artificial becomes Actual

It might sound like a silly question, but when is a father not a father? The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 provides that if a child is conceived by means of artificial insemination (AI) using donor sperm, provided the mother is married at the time of the insemination and her husband consents to the treatment, he will be the child’s father and afforded all the rights and responsibilities of a legal parent.

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