Monday, July 16, 2012

Prohibitions on trust deed variations

As mentioned last week, we often find trust deeds have prohibitions on a trustee’s ability to vary the document.

Some of the issues to be aware of in this regard include:

1    Often variations can only be made with the consent of someone other than the trustee, for example an appointor, guardian or even the settlor.

2    In some cases, variations can only be made to the core (or trust) provisions of the deed, as opposed to the more general powers, which will usually limit the ability to vary the income provisions.

3    Alternatively, while powers can be added to a trust, a deed will sometimes provide that any existing powers cannot be varied – this can be particularly problematic where there is a desire to update the income distribution provisions.

4    There are countless other examples of restrictions on variations and indeed, we have come across deeds where there is a blanket prohibition on making variations to the deed, or at least on variations to particular clauses in the deed.

While there are often workarounds no matter what restriction is imposed, the fundamental rule to remember is that each and every deed must be read before embarking on a variation.

Until next week.