Rights of Remainderman


Got a bit of a tricky Trust matter, the Remainderman does not trust the Trustees at all, and the Trustees are being cagey with information so not actually improving the situation.

Does the Remainderman have a right to know what assets are in the Trust?

Presently the main asset is a half share of a property (like most of these) the property is being sold but the Trustees aren’t willing to tell us whether the life tenant intends to buy a new home with the proceeds of sale or invest them.

I know the Remainderman is entitled to accounts but by the time accounts are issued she is very concerned that it’ll be too late and the half share will have disappeared. There is no power of absolute appointment to the Life Tenant.

There is so much animosty between the Trustees and the Remainderman on this one it’s a little bit closer to contentious than I normally get, so just wanted to double check what the Remainderman is actually entitled to know.


Lyndzey Smissen
Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate
Paytons Solicitors LLP

As I understand it. the remainderman has no rights whilst the Trust is managed by the Trustees,

The settlor instructed the Trustees to act and as long as they act in accordance with he Trust, then the management of the Trust is their responsibility.

If the Trustees are authorised to dispose of assets, then the remainderman can do nothing but check accounts as produced.

Should the account not prove unsatisfactory, then the matter may possibly be reviewed, but such action may prove to be costly.

The leading case is Schmidt v Rosewood Trust Ltd [2003] UKPC 26. The law is not clear on what information a beneficiary with a future interest is entitled to but if a remainder is vested the trustees would be wise to at least take advice on what they should disclose. The Court has an inherent jurisdiction to opine on what the trustees decide and intervene if appropriate. It may make sense for them to ask one of the Learned Ones who will be able to predict what a court might do or advise whether the costs of applying for directions could be justifed at the trust’s expense. Warning them about costs might help the remainderman here.

The case decided that a beneficiary has no proprietary or equitable right but does have a legitimate expectation of disclosure. He or she must prove that the disclosure sought is warranted by the interest they have.Trustees are at risk as to costs if they refuse to disclose and the court takes a different view and in Schmidt costs were awarded against them. I should be surprised that a remainderman would need the kind of information mentioned in the question, as not even prospectively entitled to any specific trust asset, unless some depreciatory transaction is suspected which might be breach of trust. Disclosure to a beneficiary who is an actual litigant is governed by different principles viz rules of court.

The position with trust accounts is different as a trustee has a duty to be ready with them and may have to pay costs personally if a court orders them.They will only show what assets are in the trust at the date to which they are made up.

Unfortunately the law reports are full of cases of disputes like this and sometimes pursued at disproportionate cost by intransigent parties.
A letter indicating the remainderman is taking matters seriously enough to instruct you (drafted with a litigator’s skill) may do the trick.

Jack Harper

The remainder man is entitled to know what the assets of the trust are. The right to information is not unlimited: in RNLI v Headley, it was held that a capital beneficiary is not entitled to an account of income payable to a different beneficiary. But in Ball v Ball, Master Marsh suggested the right was rather wider.

In terms of what an account consists of, he gave this summary:

“I accept [counsel’s] helpful summary of what is required from the trustees in providing an account to the beneficiaries:

i) They must say what the assets were;

ii) They must say what they have done with the assets;

iii) They must say what the assets now are;

iv) They must say what distributions have taken place.

It hardly needs to be said that the level of detail the trustees must provide and the formality of the statements and documents will vary with the size and nature of the trust.”

If the matter is super-urgent, then the court can grant an order for an interim account under CPR Part 25.

Josh Lewison
Radcliffe Chambers

Josh Lewison (who appeared for the defendants in Ball v Ball: [2020] EWHC 1020 (Ch)) demonstrates the value to a non-contentious lawyer, as I was, of a litigator’s specialist knowledge. Armed with that ammunition it may be possible to persuade trustees and other beneficiaries that what you are seeking a court may order, if your client is pushed that far, and at their expense. Henchley and others v Thompson [2017] EWHC 225 (Ch) held that a court may order an account going back as far as 20 years as there is no limitation period, a salutary warning to stroppy trustees.

Jack Harper

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Chapter 29 of the Chancery Guide is a useful explanation of what an account is all about

Jack harper