Role and appointment of trustees

The Trust Property Control Act contains certain provisions with which all trustees must comply. Non-compliance with these provisions may lead to criminal prosecution.

Although it is generally accepted that there will be at least three trustees in inter vivos trusts, two are perfectly sufficient. A trust company may well act as the only trustee.

Because the management of a trust is a big responsibility, it is important that the right persons/institutions act as trustees. Expertise and experience are of the utmost importance since the management of a trust usually spans many years.

Duties and responsibilities

The law places a responsibility on trustees to always act objectively and in the interests of beneficiaries. The law dictates regulations with regard to the following (which trustees must heed) :

  • Secret profits - trustees may under no circumstances make secret profits or speculate with trust assets.

  • Negligence - trustees must ensure that they have the necessary expertise and show due care when dealing with the trust assets.

  • Good faith - the trustees must always act in good faith.

  • Compliance with the trust deed - trustees are legally bound and obligated to execute the stipulations of the trust deed or the will (in which the aims as well as the powers and responsibilities of the trustees are explained).