A Trust is a separate legal entity which can hold money or property
What is a Trust
Trusts can be quite technical and complex in nature, but essentially a Trust is a separate legal entity which can hold money or property. Property or assets can then transferred to the Trust which will become the owner.
A person or company paying money into a Trust is known as a ‘settlor’. The Trust is recorded in a written document, known as a ‘deed’ which sets out the rules of the Trust fund, such as who can potentially benefit from the money or property held in it. A person or organisation who benefits from a Trust is called a ‘beneficiary’. Because a Trust is not a person, someone needs to be responsible for managing it. The person who has that responsibility is called a ‘trustee’.
Setting up a Trust is usually an irrevocable process, so once you pay money into a Trust you will not have the automatic right to take that money back at a later date.
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When might a Trust be used?
It is often thought that Trusts are only used by the rich and famous to avoid paying tax. But in reality, Trusts still form a very important part of protecting assets and tax planning for almost everyone.
In a Will, Trusts can be tailored to almost every individual scenario to suit the needs of you and your estate. The most common reasons for setting up a Trust is to protect assets when passing on to beneficiaries where:
- Children are not yet old enough to manage the assets themselves
- Beneficiaries are vulnerable or find themselves in vulnerable situations (for example if they have health complications or have marital or financial difficulties)
Trusts, managed by carefully selected trustees, can provide that extra piece of mind in scenarios where the intended beneficiary might not be capable of taking control of assets all in one go.
Another scenario where Trusts should be considered in a Will is when looking at succession planning for a blended family. A Trust can be used as a strategic part of estate planning to ensure that your estate is safeguarded and distributed the way you would like after death.
However, Trusts can also be very beneficial when set up during your lifetime for a number of different reasons. Most often, these reasons are for:
- Later life planning – for example, planning in case you might need to consider how to fund future care needs or move into a care home
- Compensation award management – for example following personal injury or similar awards made following legal proceedings
- Inheritance Tax planning – the use of Trusts can help reduce or even eliminate inheritance tax, ensuring more of your wealth are passed to your loved ones and chosen beneficiaries
- School fee planning by grandparents – Trusts can be an excellent way of allowing for grandparents to assist with meeting their grandchildren's school or tuition fees and, if structured correctly, this can also help the grandparents reduce their potential inheritance tax liability
- Managing assets through a charitable Trust - It is not uncommon for wealthier clients to set up their own charitable Trust which can be managed by Trustees to contribute to the clients’ preferred charitable causes. As well as supporting good initiatives, there are various tax benefits to managing contributions in this way.
Trusts are an important tool in estate planning that should not be overlooked.
Every situation is unique so our team will always look to discuss your needs with you, on a no obligation basis, before providing an estimate of fees. However, the typical range of costs for setting up a trust is £750 plus VAT to £3,000 plus VAT and expenses.
We can also work with your accountant or financial adviser to set up a structure which they might recommend for you.
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Manzurul is a Member and heads our Wills and Probate team.
Martyn is our Chairman and the firms' Compliance Officer for Legal Practice