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Ask James Mather Your Own Question
James Mather
James Mather,
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22629
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I have 2 granddaughters who are cousins. One unfortunately,

Customer Question

I have 2 granddaughters who are cousins. One unfortunately, Keri 22 years of age, has learning difficulties and will require some care throughout her life. The second grandaughter is a very capable young lady 25 years of age with a 1st class degree in mathematics. I have been approached by my daughter, the mother of Keri, to suggest someone who might act as a trustee for Keri for any estate which might be willed to her upon her and her husbands demise. Her present husband is not Keris' father and she would prefer someone from her own family to act as a trustee. I have suggested that her cousin would be a good choice because of her age,ability and personality. However I should like to make sure she is aware of the responsibilities this would place upon her even though it may be perhaps some 30 years in the future. I.e how onerous are the duties of a trustee ?
Mike parr concerned grandfather. [email protected]
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.
How much roughly would this involve?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have not found your answer to my question. Where can I find it. I was expecting to find some information as to what being a trustee involved. You have just asked me how much this would involve which is what I thought I had asked you
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

I mean, how much money is being settled into the trust?

Ignoring the duties and what is entailed, has the other cousin been approached about this?

How much care does Keri need?

How close are the cousins?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This at the present time is not known it would be the the value of any property and assets which become available at the demise of both parents. I.e whatever becomes available at the demise of the last parent.
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

How close emotionally are they and geographically?

How much care does keri need?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I have a busy day today so if it is OK with you I'll come back to you again tomorrow with more info.. MikeParr
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

No problem.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello again,sorry for not being around yesterday. However some more in depth information.
The two cousins are not terribly close either geographically or emotionally. The two sisters who are the parents of the two girls have never been very close as sisters one having always been more affluent than the other. In this case Emily the prospective trustee has always been very fortunate in being very safe financially and been spoiled in some ways , but has always remained a very nice person and very capable intellectually having as I said got a first class degree in mathematics at Bath university. Keris' family background has been somewhat more testing, her parents were divorced some 10 years ago and her mother has since remarried to a very nice man who has looked after Keri in a very considerate way since.
Coming on to Keris' needs, these are fairly minimal. She goes to work each day to a riding stables which caters for disabled riders, where she is one of the more able assistants and on first meeting you would find it difficult to regard her as disabled. She is outwardly very outgoing within her own environment but can be less than cooperative when out of her comfort zone. I would consider her to be a candidate for independent living in a halfway house situation where adults with learning difficulties can live together in a group of 3 or4 with a social worker calling on a regular basis to ensure their welfare is preserved. She travels locally on public transport without supervision and can cope with shopping in the high street. She is happy to go out in the evenings with companions to discos and funfairs etc.
I hope from this you can see that her needs as a young lady with learning difficulties are quite minimal, but at the same time she would not be capable of looking after her financial affairs if left to her own devices. Her intellectual mental age would be that of a 12 year old perhaps.
Emily the prospective trustee has suggested to me that she would make a point of being more in touch with her cousin anyway regardless of whether she becomes a trustee for her or not, by sending birthday cards and Christmas cards and emailing occasionally just to make a relationship with Keri even if only at a distance. Keri does actually send me occasional emails although they are fairly short and not very informative, she also uses a smart phone to keep in touch with parents and friends. From this you will deduce that she is far from being in need of a huge amount of backup but nevertheles a trustee will be needed. Does this enable you to advise me a little better with how to proceed. Keri lives in Worthing in West Sussex and Emily is now living in Hertfordshire so they are still geographically distanced. Regards Mike Parr.
Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

If the potential trustee were asking me
the question, I would tell her not to touch this with a barge pole. Although
she may feel a moral obligation. She has responsibilities and could be
criticised if she does something wrong and all of this for no reward.

The duties of the trustee can be quite
simply summed up in the duty to act in the beneficiary's best interest, and to
keep accurate records.

Keeping accurate records is easy enough,
but acting in the beneficiary's best interest can cover a whole variety of

You will also consider what happens if
the trustee dies or gets fed up, or is simply incapable. I would also suggest
there are always two trustees acting jointly to provide a degree of check and

The problem with appointing
professional trustees such as solicitors or accountants is that they charge,
often, more, for administering the trust than the value of what they are
administering. They will charge 200 quid for example, to pay a bill of 50 quid,
because of the time involved.

Can I help further?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Whilst I can see what you say is correct it implies, if everyone were to accept this advice, that anyone with fragile intellect should be left to their own devices From what you say the duties of a trustee are not seriously onerous in just keeping accurate records and really come down to whether we have a duty of care to less capable people in society. I think as you say it would be a better proposition if a second person could be found to act as a joint trustee to give a balance and check on the management of the trust and I think I shall make some effort to introduce another young member of the family to this role. I don't think we should just cast people afloat without support when it becomes necessary.


Once a trust has been set up can it not be altered, before coming into effect, if circumstances change and a trustee for whatever reason becomes unavailable.?


Yours sincerely Mike Parr

Expert:  James Mather replied 5 years ago.

I appreciate what you say
about not being cast afloat, but by the same token, you cannot thrust the
responsibility on to someone who does not want to do it.

There are various provisions
to replace trustees who are unable or unwilling or retiring or die, in statute.

You appreciate I hope that you
are into a very specialist area and you need to take detailed advice and give
detailed instructions to a solicitor who specialises in such trusts.