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Who’s who: executors and other key people

Trustees

Who is a trustee?

Administration Act 1969, ss 13, 63; Trustee Act 1956 (replaced by Trusts Act 2019 on 30 Jan 2021)

A trustee is a person or organisation responsible for holding any of the will-maker’s property until it can be paid to the beneficiary who is entitled to the property. The roles of executor and trustee are usually combined in a single person.

It is not legally required to get someone’s permission before appointing them as a trustee. However, it is a good idea to ask them, as they may refuse to accept the role after your death.

What does a trustee do?

In a will, the legal ownership of the property passes to the trustee on the death of the will-maker. The trustee must hold it for the beneficiaries and distribute it under the terms of the will. Sometimes the trustee’s role may continue for some time, for example, where the will provides for children to benefit when they reach a certain age.

Does a trustee get paid?

Trustees can get paid for their services only if this is provided for in the will. Where the trustee is a professional (for example, a lawyer, accountant or trust company), they will generally ask for the will to include arrangements for their payment.

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