Canada: Trusts And Trustees: Some Tips On Risk Management

Justice Lederer, in the case of Re Watson Estate, commented that "being asked to be a trustee of an estate is not a gift". No truer words could be spoken and, before taking on the role of an executor, estate trustee or a trustee of any trust, you should consider carefully what you are taking on and the possible risks that may arise from this position.

The following are some risk management tips that executors and trustees in Ontario may find useful:

1. It is crucial to understand the terms of the trust. In this regard:

(b)obtain all original trust documents; and

(c) make sure all original documents are signed.

In this context, one reported case involved a situation where original documents could not be found. It was held that the trust did not exist and that the trustees did not hold the property on the intended trust. The trustees therefore did not have the powers that they thought they had and were held liable to account to the beneficiaries for fees the trustees had charged.

2. If you are a professional advisor involved with a trust situation, who is your client? In this context, are you a trustee? If you are, it may not be prudent to act as a trustee and as a professional advisor to the trust – for several reasons, including:

(a) you may want someone to sue should the professional advice "have unexpected results";

(b) if you have a dispute with the beneficiaries, it is important to be able to segregate between what you did in your capacity as a professional versus what you did in your capacity as a trustee;

(c) professional malpractice insurance may not cover you when you are acting as a trustee; and

(d) you may benefit from the perspective of an independent third party.

3. The trust documentation should be carefully reviewed with respect to trustee remuneration, trustee expenses, and trustee indemnification. In this context, consider the "risk profile" of the trust: the players involved, the assets involved, and the status of relevant relationships.

4. The ability of trustee(s) to resign, be removed and replaced should be understood – and, as appropriate, acted upon.

5. You must understand the details of relevant corporate structures and family trees. In this context, note that "issue" and other familial relationships are determined by blood, not marriage, i.e., my husband's niece is not "my niece" for purposes of these words. This area is becoming increasingly complicated with the increased use of human reproduction technology.

6. It is imperative to note deadlines carefully. For example, if a power is exercisable "before" a specific date and a trustee attempts to exercise the power on the specific date, the exercise may be ineffective.

7. You should always consider multi-jurisdictional issues. As appropriate, have your professional advisor consult trusted professionals qualified in the relevant jurisdiction(s).

8. Prepare and retain records regarding the maintenance of the trust. Written resolutions (and, if you are a professional advisor, detailed dockets) are crucial evidence of due diligence and propriety. In this context, we recommend that you use a trust minute book and that sole trustees should pass resolutions (just as would a sole director). In addition, have the trust accounts prepared by a professional familiar with the area: trust accounting is unique and quite unlike other methods of accounting.

9. Whether you are part of a trust's creation or maintenance, endeavour to make sure that the trustee(s) have clear communication with the settlor. Of course, once a trust is settled, the settlor's view is only one of the factors trustee(s) should take into account when making decision(s). As well, note that a settlor may exercise such level of control over trust assets that the trust might be determined, by a court, to be a sham and the trust property attributed to the settlor.

10. You should not rely on intermediaries to communicate the wishes of the settlor or the position of beneficiaries. In one case where the settlor had a life interest, the trustee relied on an intermediary who made an error in interpreting the settlor's instructions and, as a result, the trustee was found to have failed in the trustee's fiduciary duty to ascertain correctly the settlor's instructions.

11. Trustees must make sure that they have secure ownership and control of trust property. This may involve obtaining a local legal opinion if there is a multi-jurisdictional aspect.

12. Trustees should consider the capacity of the person transferring property to the trust. If the transferor is incapacitated, the transfer may be invalid. If you have concerns regarding capacity, you should require or seek proof of capacity.

13. When a trust involves a life interest, the trustee(s) should balance carefully the interests of the life tenant and the interests of remainder beneficiaries. The trustee(s) should invest trust assets accordingly. This requires an understanding of the income and capital requirements of beneficiaries and likely returns on investments.

14. If investment management is being delegated, such delegation should be conducted in compliance with the trust document and the Trustee Act.

Acting as an executor or as a trustee is an important and challenging job ... and certainly isn't a gift.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
7 Dec 2017, Webinar, Toronto, Canada

FEX Members Jeff Noble, BDO, and Caroline Abela, WeirFoulds LLP, invite you to a complimentary webinar series titled: All About Shareholders.

29 Oct 2018, Conference, Toronto, Canada

WeirFoulds Partner and co-chair, Technology and IP group will be speaking on the topic, "Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Practice of Law. This session contains 1 hour and 30 minutes of Professionalism Content.

29 Oct 2018, Workshop, Toronto, Canada

WeirFoulds Partner Clare Burns is a Program Chair for the Conducting a Dependant Support Trial workshop hosted by The Advocates Society.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
O'Sullivan Estate Lawyers LLP
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions