When it comes to appointing Trustees the clue’s in the name

Published: 14/02/2013

A recent court case involving a £34,000 stolen legacy has highlighted the important decisions involved when making a Will and the impact these choices can have on your loved ones.

Carole Walker was appointed as Executor and Trustee of her brother’s estate after he passed away suddenly. He was his intention to leave everything he owned in trust for his 19-year-old daughter until she turned 21.

However just a matter of months after taking charge of her brother’s assets, Carole Walker had spent £34,147 including £3000 in Asda alone.

Trusts are a key area of Will writing and Estate Planning. They can help in a number of situations such as preserving property, protecting vulnerable Beneficiaries and potentially mitigating Inheritance Tax.

If you are writing Trusts into your Will, you will need to appoint a Trustee. It is then their responsibility to protect, manage and distribute the assets in the Trust to the named Beneficiaries as instructed in the Will.

The Trustee must act in the best interests of the Beneficiaries and in such a way as to avoid any loss of value of the Trust fund. If they are negligent in their duties and these actions result in a loss of value to the assets of the Trust then they will be personally liable.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw comments on the case in question:

“It became apparent the defendant was not administering the estate the way it should be, according to the terms of the deceased’s will.

“The police were called and an investigation began. She accepted she had spent money she was not entitled to.

“She said at the time she was in considerable debt and had borrowed money from loan sharks and had difficulty keeping up with the mortgage repayments so had spent some on that.

“There was £34,065 paid into her account on November 10, 2010. The following day, November 11, a total of £3000 was spent at Asda by the defendant in respect of, the crown believe, electrical items and there was other expenditure of a similar nature on the following days.”

Carole Walker has been jailed for eight months.

Content correct at time of publication

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