Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/240

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The Public Trustee of England In many cases, also, the person appointed turned out to be incompetent or careless, so that the estate was neglected, and dissipated or allowed to deteriorate. Moreover, there had been a number of frauds committed by persons who had trust funds to administer. The act was designed to provide means for avoiding these difficulties and dangers, and for protecting estates from the expenses and losses which resulted therefrom. In the succeeding portion of this article an attempt is made to give in condensed form some idea of the degree of success attained by the act, and the public trustee's office organized thereunder, in supplying the needs above indicated. Availability. The public trustee may be named as executor or trustee, or both, in a will; may be appointed administra tor of a solvent estate either originally or as successor of a prior executor or administrator; may be named as trustee in an instrument creating a settlement such as a life estate, or may be appointed such trustee as successor of a previous trustee; may act either alone, or as one of two or more joint executors, admini strators or trustees; and may be called upon to perform certain other duties under special Acts of Parliament. He and his staff are readily accessible to all interested parties. The central office is in London, but branch offices may be es tablished elsewhere from time to time under deputy public trustees acting as subordinates of the public trustee. An estate or trust may be administered from the central office or a branch office as the public trustee directs. Under certain circumstances, the public trustee may decline to act as executor or admini strator, or to accept a trust. For instance, he will not manage a continuing business enterprise, or administer an insolvent estate, or undertake a trust exclusively for religious or charitable purposes.


But he does not decline to act in any proper case, and is especially enjoined by law to assume the administration of small estates. Where he has been named as executor in a will, and has signified his acquiescence in the desig nation, the will may be deposited with him for safe keeping during the lifetime of the testator, and a receipt taken there for, i Continuity. As appears from the portion of the act quoted at the head of this article, the public trustee is at once an official guaranteed by the Govern ment and a corporation sole " with perpetual succession." No other corpor ate trustee can hope to assert its perman ency so confidently. In him the public have an executor or trustee who will never die, never become incapacitated, and never fail or be dissolved. Legal Capacity. The public trustee, himself an able lawyer, has forty-one lawyers and other employees on the legal side of his office as at present or ganized. This force, chosen with an eye to fitness for the kind of work it is en gaged on, is constantly studying and applying the laws which bear upon the special class of cases coming before it. The public trustee, with this highly spec ialized corps of assistants, is an expert on all questions of law which can arise in connection with the performance of his duties. Business Capacity. The law and rules governing the public trustee's office, and the plan upon which it is organized, re quire him to maintain unceasing effici ency in handling all matters of a per sonal and business character coming under his control, and to be equipped with the varied knowledge necessary to that end. In addition to ample provision for taking over an estate and administering its fixed properties, a special department is constantly engaged