The Trustee Act 1956 reigned for over 60 years before the Trusts Act 2019 (“the Act”) came into force. The Act aims to simplify Trust-related issues by providing mandatory and default administrative trustee duties. One scenario under the spotlight is the process of removing an incapacitated trustee. Many Trusts that were established in the ‘Trust boom’ around 20 years ago may now be faced with a trustee who is losing capacity. This can be a tricky situation when trustees are trying to deal with Trust assets, especially in a family context. Fortunately, a Court order is no longer needed to remove a trustee.
Trustees can now exercise a compulsory removal of a trustee if they lose capacity (s104 of the Act). This can apply regardless of what your Trust Deed specifies, or fails to specify, in respect of removing an incapacitated trustee. It is then the question of who has the power to remove that trustee which is a case of reviewing the Trust Deed together with the Act. Removal of an incapacitated trustee is a compulsory ground of removal available to the Appointer and if the trustee has lost the capacity to perform the functions of a trustee then it would make sense to remove them.
Review your Trust Deed first
Your Trust Deed may specifically nominate someone with the power to remove trustees. That person may remove a trustee in accordance with their Trust powers or by using s104 of the Act. The Act’s processes may be more suited in some circumstances.
If the Trust Deed is silent on the removal of an incapacitated trustee then follow the Act
The Act’s process is used to account for the situation that the Trust Deed has not anticipated. In reality this is quite common and a good incentive to review or amend your Trust Deed.
The Act states if the nominated person in the Trust Deed is unwilling or unable to remove the incapacitated trustee then the remaining trustees can do so. If there are no remaining trustees or they are unwilling to act, then further individuals may be granted the power to remove. They can include:
- a property manager appointed under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 to act as manager of the trustee’s property, or;
- a person holding an enduring power of attorney over the property of the incapacitated trustee, or
- a liquidator of a corporate trustee that is in liquidation.
A medical certificate confirming that the trustee of concern no longer has the capacity to carry out the role of a trustee will form the basis of the documentation required to give effect to the removal. Holland Beckett Law can guide you through this process.