A family case-study
A father wanted to ensure that his children would all receive equal treatment, so he set up a trust and appointed the eldest two children as trustees.
After the father died the trustees treated the trust as a private fund – favouring certain siblings (including themselves) and ignoring the others. The trustees claimed that their dad had given them oral instructions that justified their actions. Anyone they gave money to was forced to sign an agreement that required the money to be repaid if the distribution was ever disclosed.
Other children didn’t receive anything. They knew this was definitely not what their father intended, but were uncertain what they could do about it.
When these children asked for copies of the will and the trust deed, they were curtly rebuffed. The non-trustee siblings were also unwilling to help – frightened that they would be forced to return money to the trustees if they did.
Eventually one of the children sought our advice and we helped them challenge the trustees. We had to file proceedings to remove the trustees.
Faced with removal and possible legal action for breach of trust, the trustees yielded and a fair settlement was reached. Our client stood up for herself, stuck to her guns and ultimately prevailed.