With the new Trusts Bill introduced at the beginning of this month, we now have a little more clarity as to what our future will look like.
Although the Trusts Bill reflects much of our existing trust law, there are some novel features, including:
- A new rule that trusts have a maximum duration of 125 years.
- A provision stating if a trust has a sole trustee, that trustee cannot be the sole beneficiary.
- The presumption that trustees mustmake basic trust information available to every beneficiary (or representative of a beneficiary if the beneficiary does not have capacity).
This last feature – the presumption that trustees must disclose basic trust information to beneficiaries – is the most contentious of the changes in the Trust Bill.
What is “basic trust information”?
Basic trust information is defined as:
- the fact that a person is a beneficiary of the trust
- the name and contact details of the trustee
- the occurrence of, and details of, each appointment, removal, and retirement of a trustee as it occurs, and
- the right of the beneficiary to request a copy of the terms of the trust or trust information.
“Trust information” is broadly defined to mean any information regarding the terms of the trust, the administration of the trust, or the trust property but does not include the reasons for trustee decisions.
Presumption to disclose information not an absolute requirement
Although there is a presumption to disclose, this does not necessarily mean that trustees must disclose basic trust information (or trust information) to all beneficiaries. Trustees will still be able to refuse to provide some or all of the information if, after considering a range of factors, they reasonably consider that the information should not be made available to every beneficiary. The factors that trustees must take into account include:
- The nature of the various beneficiary interests in the trust, including the likelihood of the requesting beneficiary receiving trust property in the future;
- Whether the information is subject to personal or commercial confidentiality;
- The expectations and intentions of the settlor when the trust was created as to whether the beneficiaries, and the qualifying beneficiary in particular, would be given information (if known);
- The age and other circumstances of the requesting beneficiary and the other beneficiaries of the trust;
- In the case of a family trust, the effect that disclosure would have on relationships within the family and the relationship between the trustees the various beneficiaries to the detriment of the beneficiaries as a whole; and
- In a trust that has a large number of beneficiaries or unascertainable beneficiaries, the practicality of giving information to all beneficiaries or all members of a class of beneficiaries.
With regard to basic trust information, trustees are required to assess at regular intervals their decision to disclose (or not).
CCH iTrust New Developments & Updates
**IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR ALL USERS**
The CCH iTrust site has been upgraded and is ready for you to use. Please access your CCH iTrust using https://cchitrust.com.
www.cchitrust.com is still active but does not have the same enhanced security features as https://cchitrust.com. We will be deactivating www.cchitrust.com at the end of August so please switch to the new URL as soon as possible. Remember to update all your bookmarks and shortcuts.
If you have any difficulties accessing the software on the new link please make sure you have updated your firewall settings to make https://cchitrust.com a safe or trusted site.
XERO interface now live
If you have a contact database in Xero we can now link that to your CCH iTrust (and CCH Companies) data. Please contact your account manager for more information.