Worried about leaving money outright to one of your beneficiaries? A trust might help.

What is a trust?

A trust is an arrangement – a relationship – you create that lets you set aside an amount of money (or other kinds of property) for a beneficiary. The property is held “in trust” for your beneficiary – it’s not given outright to that beneficiary, but rather is held and managed by a trustee on whatever terms you dictate.

For example, if you want to put aside money in a trust for a person with disabilities, you would:

  • identify the property you want to hold for your beneficiary – is it money? a home? or….?
  • identify the person who is going to be the beneficiary of the trust
  • identify the person who will be managing the trust, including maintaining or investing the trust (called a “trustee”)
  • set out the purpose of the trust – will the property be used for the beneficiary’s care? maintenance? education? trips to Vegas? how much money can be used? how often? what happens when the beneficiary dies?

When should I make a trust?

You can set up a trust in your Will (called a testamentary trust), or while you are still alive (known as an inter-vivos trust).

Generally speaking, you don’t want to create a trust unless there is a very good reason for doing so, because trusts need to be administered by someone, usually for a long time. This means that the trustee will have to file income tax returns for each year the trust exists, pay taxes for the trust, and report to the beneficiary, and any other agencies to whom the trust has to report.

Here are some situations when you might want to set up a trust:

  • if you have a beneficiary who is a person with disabilities, receiving disability assistance
  • if you want a 2nd or 3rd spouse to benefit from your assets during their lifetime, but then when your spouse dies, you want the money to go to your children from your first spouse
  • if you are worried about creditor protection issues
  • if you have a beneficiary who is living with addiction issues
  • if you have a beneficiary who is not mature enough to handle large amounts of property
  • if you want few assets in your estate to avoid Wills Variation claims
  • if you want to hold the beneficial interest in your assets, but require a professional to properly invest them

Is a trust subject to probate?

The assets in a properly set up inter-vivos trust (other than bare trusts) should not be subject to probate. This is because the property in the trust isn’t owned by an individual anymore – it becomes the property of the trust. If you’re trying to avoid probate, we can help set up your estate using trusts and other measures to ensure your goals are achieved.

What types of trusts can you set up?

We can help with the following trusts:

  • Disability trusts
  • Testamentary trusts
  • Spousal trusts
  • Family trusts
  • Alter Ego trusts
  • Self-Benefit trusts
  • Joint Spousal trusts
  • Bare trust agreements
  • Unit trusts