Trustee responsibility and trust governance
Our specialist team has experience in both of these areas and particularly how they apply to charities.
The rules which apply to a trust and the trustees are those which are:
- In the charity’s trust documents themselves
- Stated in law
In addition to the above, trustees also need to be aware that they have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries (i.e. the charity), and to act in its best interests.
Where trustees fail to carry out their duties correctly, they can be in breach of trust.
As such, it is important that both the charity appointing the trustees, and the trustees themselves, are aware of the trustees’ duties and responsibilities.
Charitable Trust Documents
We have experience in setting up charitable trusts, including preparing the trust deeds at creation, to the other documentation required in their lifecycle (including Deeds of Appointment and Retirement of Trustees, Deeds of Variation, and Deeds of Appointment).
Often it is the Charitable Trust Deed which contains the powers that apply to the trustees, and where necessary grants the trustees greater flexibility to act than they otherwise would be able to under statute.
We will work with you to ensure that your documentation accurately reflects your intentions.
The nature of a trustee’s duty towards a beneficiary is fiduciary, and a trustee who fails to carry out their duties will be in breach of trust (which means they may be personally liable for their actions).
The trustees’ responsibilities, which will apply to trustees of a Charity, are extensive, including that they must:
- Follow strict procedure when making investments
- Observe the terms of the trust
- Exercise reasonable care when managing the charity’s affairs
- Disclose sufficient information to beneficiaries (including accounts)
There are many nuances and exceptions with regard to trustees’ responsibilities: trustees should consider taking legal advice before accepting their role, and where unsure of whether they can or cannot do something under the charity’s trust documents.
Where you require assistance with preparing the charity’s trust documents, to ensure that there are sufficient controls and powers for the trustees to effectively and efficiently administer the charity, please contact any member of our team.