Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 21, 2008

Trustee should distribute sale proceeds according to terms

Filed under: General,Land Sale,Property Q & A — Propertymarketupdates @ 3:15 pm

Q I read your advice on how to claim a share of an estate, and I have some queries.

If there is a piece of land in the name of a trustee:

Is it possible for the trustee to sell it without the knowledge of the descendants of the person who entrusted it to him?

And if so, does the trustee get to keep all the proceeds?

How can we check if a transaction has been made and if the proceeds have been paid out?

A A trust is set up when a settlor gives an asset to a trustee on behalf of a beneficiary. The trust can be set up immediately, during the settlor’s lifetime or, if it is stated in the settlor’s will, it will take effect only upon the settlor’s death.

The trustee holds the legal title to the asset, while the beneficiary will inherit the asset.

It is possible for the trustee to sell the asset (in this case, the land) without the knowledge of the beneficiary.

However, under the law, whatever the trustee does, he has to ensure that everything is done for the benefit of the beneficiary and according to the terms of the trust.

The trustee will, therefore, have to distribute the proceeds of the sale according to the terms of the trust and should not keep all the proceeds – unless he is one of the beneficiaries under the trust, in which case he is entitled to keep his share according to the terms of the trust.

You can check with the Singapore Land Authority to find out whether the piece of land has been sold and, if so, to whom and for how much.

Alternatively, you may wish to engage a lawyer to do the necessary searches for you.

Note also that the beneficiary has the right to ask the trustee for an account of the income and expenses of the trust to date.

Ang Kim Lan
Goodwins Law Corporation

Source : Sunday Times – 25 May 2008

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