By Peter Lee
One week after the car accident, John Lee and Connie (Co-Administrators of Lee Sr’s estate) regained consciousness in the hospital as all their family members were waiting anxiously for their recovery. However, both of them remained paralysed. Once they were in a position to talk, Mrs Patricia Lee (Lee Sr’s first wife) and Michelle (Lee Sr’s daughter and Co-Administrator) together with Dave (the family lawyer) began to discuss with John on his position as the Co-Administrator of his father’s estate. John asked, “Dave, what are my options now since I am in this condition? In reply, Dave said, “As you know, Connie’s condition is similar to yours. Therefore, among three of the Co-Administrators, I can only see that your father’s estate is now left with only one Administrator, that is, Michelle who is capable of doing the job at the moment. Your option right now, which I have also discussed with your family members, is to withdraw yourself as Administrator from the application for (L.A.) submitted to the High Court allowing a fresh application to be made for the appointment of say, Michelle to be the sole Administrator.
John then asked, “I am okay with this but what about Connie’s decision?” To this Dave explained, “I have to speak to her about this. But I have also discussed with your family members on the possibility that she may not agree to Michelle being appointed as the sole Administrator. Michelle interrupted and said “I have spoken to Connie’s sister, Jessica, the other day and there is strong indication that she will convince Connie to appoint an independent party to be the sole Administrator.” John quickly asked, “ Who can that be?” “A Corporate Trustee,” was Dave’s reply. John asked further, “Are they reliable?” Dave went further and explained that the option to choose “Corporate Trustees” is most suitable as they will be seen as impartial to both sides of the family.
“I have identified a reputable trust company to meet up with all family members when all beneficiaries agree to this appointment. For your information your family members have agreed to it as they want the application for L.A. to be expedited.” After a few seconds of thinking, John gave his approval to this option and he said “Now it’s up to Connie.” Dave then went and explained the same thing to Connie to which she agreed. With both sides of the family agreeing to the appointment of a ‘trust company’, Dave brought along representatives from a ‘Corporate Trustee’ to meet up with all family members at the hospital a few days later since both John and Connie were still in hospital.
The representative commenced the meeting by introducing themselves. Then the first thing the family members wanted to know is what is the difference between a trust company and an individual being appointed as the Administrator of an Estate. To this, the representative said, “I believe Dave has explained to you much earlier on the role and duties of an Administrator. Now, our role would be the same, to apply for the L.A. However, the difference is that, as a trust company, we are able to provide continuity as we are not affected by death or disability, ensuring that the estate is administered in a professional manner from the beginning to the end. At the same time as a trust company, our decision making is done collectively at the management level to ensure impartiality to all beneficiaries and compliance with the relevant laws. The law also imposes on us higher standards of accountability compared to an individual administrator in terms of the administration of the estate. Furthermore, our duties are governed by the Probate and Administration Act 1959, Trustee Act 1949 and more specifically under the Trust Companies Act 1949.” Michelle then asked, “How much are your fees?”
To be continued…