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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Trusts for particular purposes: trusts administered by the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee: introduction


The Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee are separate public sector trust corporations, but both posts are in fact held by the same individual. Since 1 April 2001 there has been just one office undertaking the statutory functions of the Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee.

The Official Solicitor acts as trustee of last resort, either executor or administrator of an estate, or as trustee of a trust. The Official Solicitor will generally act either where there is no-one else willing or able to do so, or where appointed to act by the Court.

The Public Trustee was established in 1906 to act as a reliable public sector corporate trustee for people who wanted to set up trusts during their lifetime. Now that there are suitably qualified corporate trustees to whom assets can safely be entrusted the need for such a corporation has been eroded, and the current policy of the Public Trustee is to act only as trustee of last resort, on the same basis as the Official Solicitor.

Cases handled by the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee

The main categories of case where the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee will act involve:

  1. Grants of representation for minors - see TSEM5910
  2. Grants of representation for patients - see TSEM5915
  3. Trusts arising out of Court proceedings - see TSEM5920
  4. Bare trust for a minor, acting as a guardian - see TSEM5925
  5. Trusts arising from Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority awards - see TSEM5930
  6. Awards made under the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979 - see TSEM5935

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Tax treatment

The tax treatment of the various trusts administered by the Official Solicitor Public Trustee follows normal tax principles. Trusts currently subject to income tax at the special trust rates include:

  • statutory trusts for minors entitled to capital at 18; and
  • disabled persons’ trusts (as defined in IHTA/S89) including trusts arising from Court proceedings.

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Trustees’ fees

Guidance on this matter is in TSEM8783.