What is a Trustee and What are the Duties of a Trustee in Singapore?

what is a trustee singapore


What is a Trustee?

In many wills, it is common to note someone being appointed as both “executor and trustee”. While commonly mistaken to be the same thing, an executor and a trustee are actually two different roles.

An executor in Singapore has a statutory power of sale for administration purposes. However, those powers cease once these duties are completed, and the person to whom probate has been granted then holds as trustee.

Normally, a trustee can only do those things which he is specifically empowered to do under the instrument constituting the trust. In Singapore, certain powers are conferred upon trustees by the Trustees Act.

One of the reasons why we keep emphasizing the importance of having a will properly drafted is because a will has to be properly written to give the trustee the powers he may foreseeably need.

If the will is not properly written, situations will arise in which the trustee is powerless to do what should be done. Neither the Trust Instrument (in this case, the Will), nor the Trustees Act will give the trustee the power he is seeking.

What are the Duties of a Trustee in Singapore?

The main duties of a trustee in Singapore include:

  1. Statutory Duty of Care under s3A Trustees Act
  2. Duty to Make and Optimise Returns on Investment under s4 – 6 Trustees Act (if so directed)
  3. Duty to Complete a Schedule of All the Deceased’s Assets and Ascertain their Value
  4. Duty to Collect and Realize assets
  5. Duty to Prepare and maintain estate accounts under s78 Trustees Act
  6. Duty to Pay Debts
  7. Duty to dispose of the Deceased’s body
  8. To keep accounts
  9. Duty to continue or bring and maintain Court actions on behalf of the estate
  10. To distribute the assets in accordance with the will or the laws of intestacy

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