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Trustees can acquire property by purchase, by gift and on any change in trustees. Mostly, executors acquire property as part of the deceased’s estate, but in some cases they can also buy property for the estate. Both trustees and executors now usually have statutory power to buy property anywhere in the United Kingdom, but buying overseas property depends on express power in the trust deed or will.
Except for charities, four is the maximum number of trustees who can hold property in England and Wales and a minimum of two are required if property is to be sold. A single executor can act alone.
Trustees can hold property as an investment or for use by a beneficiary – perhaps as a place to live or perhaps for the beneficiary’s business. If they wish, trustees can now delegate the management of such property to the beneficiary. The principal private residence of a beneficiary may be exempt from capital gains tax for the trustees.
In owning property, trustees make themselves personally liable for a range of obligations: with care it is often possible to limit trustees’ personal liability to the value of the trust assets.