Clause 69 - Protection of trustees and personal representatives

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 6 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 11:00, 6 Rhagfyr 2001

Now that we have departed from the choppy waters of aristocratic sperm, it will be interesting to see how the Lords deal with those clauses. We are now on the safer—as far as the Hansard reporters are concerned—territory of trustees.

I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to elucidate the clause. I speak with a vested, but non-pecuniary interest as someone who acts as a trustee for various funds. Subsection (1) exempts trustees from inquiring in the course of their duties, which would normally be to distribute the assets of a trust fund or administer the distribution of income, about the adoptive state of—I presume—a potential beneficiary of the trust.

I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to explain that. A trust may be set up with the explicit intention that its assets should be passed on only to blood relatives. For example, grandparents may set up a trust for their grandchildren, but they may want only the natural-born children of their children to inherit from it. If, after the grandparents' death, an additional child was adopted by the second generation and the trustees were unaware of that, could that adopted child be a beneficiary of the distribution of the trust's assets in the same way as the blood relatives? If it were later discovered by the trustees that they had effectively breached the terms of the trust because an adopted child had become a beneficiary, would there be no comeback on that? It would be useful to clarify that for trustees. I admit that it would be unusual for there to be exclusions or exemptions for adopted children in a trust's documents, but it is not inconceivable.