The Trustee’s Even Hand Rule

Execeutor to be even handed

Estate trustees also are bound by the “Even Hand Rule”- a duty to act impartially as between beneficiaries.

In his expansive text on The Law of Trusts in Canada, 2nd ed., (Toronto: Carswell, 1984), Professor Waters describes that rule in the following terms:

“It is a primary duty upon trustees that in all their dealings with trust affairs they act in such a way that, if there are two or more beneficiaries, each beneficiary receives exactly what the terms of the trust confer upon him and, otherwise, receives no advantage, and suffers no burden which other beneficiaries do not share.
In this way, the trustees act impartially; they hold an even hand. The settlor or testator may choose to give disproportionate interests to various beneficiaries and he, very often, does so in practice, but that is his privilege. It is still the duty of the trustees to carry out the terms of the trust as they find them and to ensure that in the administration of the trust they do not give advantage or impose burden when that advantage or burden is not so found in the terms of the trust.”

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