Beneficiaries and Trustees of a Trust

An executor is a personal representative appointed by the testator in their will. In the event of the testator’s death, the executor is responsible for probating the testator’s will. If the deceased does not have a will, the county court picks someone to act as the executor of the decedent’s estate. The court in such cases gives precedence to relatives when choosing an executor. When there are no relatives available, the court may appoint anyone it deems fit as the executor.

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The Rights of a Beneficiary

A beneficiary is the person(s) who is entitled to all or a portion the benefits that accompany a trust arrangement. A trust beneficiary is legally entitled to a set of rights that normally include:

  • The beneficiary is entitled to timely receive all or a portion of the benefits of the trust. The period of time over which these benefits will be distributed depends on the complexity and the formulation of the estate and the terms of the trust.
  • The right to information pertaining to the original assets and their respective inventories that form part of the estate.
  • They have the right to request the administrator of estate to complete and disclose the estate’s accounting and bookkeeping.
  • The beneficiary has the right to request the court for the removal of the trustee; however, the Court ultimately is tasked with determining whether or not the Trustee should remain.
  • The beneficiaries have the right to review, and raise any objections to the compensation of the executor. In case the beneficiary is not satisfied with the level of compensation the court should set it for them.

The Duties of a Trustee

A trustee is the person entrusted with the fiduciary duty and responsibility of administering and disbursing the assets of the trustmakers (settlors) to the beneficiaries of the trust. The main responsibilities of a trustee include:

  • Tasked with managing the trust assets and preventing them from being co-mingled with other property in the Estate or other property of the Trustee.
  • Avoiding conflicts of interest (they should avoid any and all conflicts of interests, not just between them and the beneficiaries
  • Carefully adhere to the terms of the trust when disbursing the incomes and assets to the beneficiaries
  • A trustee shouldn’t delegate any of their responsibilities as a trustee to another person, except and unless expressly permitted pursuant to the terms of the trust. However, for efficient administering of the trust, the trustee can hire attorneys and accountants for counsel.
  • The trustee has the responsibility to disclose all the relevant information of the trust to the beneficiaries, including a complete disclosure of assets and property.