The Complex World of Trusts

March 27, 2023

I had the pleasure of co-hosting a webinar on Tuesday 21 March 2023 with Cara Hough, one of our Partners here at IDR Law, which covered some of the issues that can arise when dealing with Trusts and Trustees, such as:


– Wrong Advice

– Wrong Product

– Wrong Drafting

– Wrong Trustees

AND what can go wrong when everything else goes right!


At this point it seems important to point out that it was not as dreary as may have been expected, given the topic of conversation, or at least I hope it wasn’t!


As the area of Trusts is vastly complex, we thought it would help to apply different scenarios to a hypothetical family, ‘The Claimers’ to highlight what can go wrong.


In our various examples, Mr & Mrs Claimer were a married couple with three children. Two of the children were older and more settled in their lives, both in terms of having their own families/properties and being financially stable. The third youngest child was at the start of their career and not yet on the property ladder. Not a wholly unusual set of circumstances.


We took Mr & Mrs Claimer on a bumpy journey through lifetime trusts where they decided to hand their property over to trustees on the advice of a seemingly reputable company, which as you can imagine ended with unfortunate and unintended consequences.


We then discussed a scenario where Mr & Mrs Claimer had written discretionary trust Wills with letters of wishes which contradicted their intended outcome.


The issues just kept coming for Mr & Mrs Claimer when, in a different scenario, we discussed the situation where the solicitor who drafted their Wills, which included life interest trust clauses for their respective shares in their property, forgot to send them a severance of tenancy to sign and this wasn’t picked up until after Mr Claimer died.


Finally, we discussed a scenario whereby Mr & Mrs Claimer had Wills which included a discretionary trust. They had a detailed letter of wishes to go alongside these – everything was well drafted and in line with their wishes and intentions. What could go wrong? Well, in this scenario the problem was who they chose as trustees.


As well as regaling in the misfortune of Mr & Mrs Claimer, we discussed real life Court cases and news stories which highlighted that these situations, whilst hypothetical for our discussion, do happen and that it is imperative steps are taken to try to ensure the risks of any of these issues arising is mitigated, so far as is possible.


A full recording of the webinar can be found here.  This webinar is one of our Contentious Clinic sessions we are currently running. The next one is due to take place on Tuesday 16 May 2023 with Richard Thomas discussing Meditation and Sibling Rivalry – register now. 


Hannah Coton – Smith, Trainee Solicitor