Professional Trustees

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    The importance of appointing a professional to administer a Trust is always something we stress.

    However, more people are relying on their friends and relatives to take on this important role.

    Unfortunately, these people they ‘trust’ can take advantage of their position as the temptation of cash becomes too great.

    A recent case has brought this again to light. An aunt stole her nephew’s £52,000 inheritance from his Trust Fund set up by his father (her brother!) before his death.

    The trust was made up from his father’s pension.

    The Trust was set up in 1994 when nephew Robert was only four years old but over a five year period his aunt, Rhona made 26 withdrawals from the account, leaving him with less than £300
    when he should have had £80,000 including interest.

    Rhona and Robert’s mother, Janet were joint trustees of the fund. Both signatures were required to withdraw any money, each time Rhona withdrew cash she forged Janet’s signature.

    Robert, now 20 years old discovered the con when he asked his mother to check the balance as he was interested in purchasing his first property. Realising the statement stated the fund only contained £292 he was stunned.

    Robert has now disowned Rhona, his father’s sister after learning of the deception. He said ‘she never thought about my father’s wishes and I find that sickening. It is awful and she did not care about my father’s Will and what he wanted. I do not class her as my aunt, I am sure my father would be sickened and disgusted’.

    Rhona, a mother herself, was jailed for three years at Bolton Crown Court after pleading guilty to forgery, obtaining property by deception and three counts of obtaining money by deception.

    She could be forced to repay all the money and her assets have been frozen pending a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

    Unfortunately, when people are left in charge of vast sums of money they can become greedy and blind sighted. The fact that one woman achieved so much deception over the given time period
    highlights the lack of stringent trust administration. This vulnerability has the ability to occur when there is no professional guidance.

    The large sums of money lost in this scenario and the upset caused could have easily been avoided. Putting trust in the right people is a difficult task; even family members can take advantage of the position. The only guarantee of protection for any testator/donor considering a Trust at any stage in their life is to put their Trust in the hands of a professional.

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    Matt Walkden Will Writer

    About Matt Walkden

    I am a Professional Will Writer and I offer a small number of other products that complement my Will Writing such as Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPA’s), Fixed Price Estate Administration, often called Probate and some Property Products such as changing a family home from Joint owners to Tenants in Common.

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