A trust is a legal arrangement in which one party, known as the grantor, transfers assets or property to another party, known as the trustee. The trustee holds and manages these assets for the benefit of a third party, known as the beneficiary. The creation of a trust involves a legal document called a trust agreement.

Here are the key roles in a trust:

  1. Grantor:
    • This is the person who establishes the trust and transfers assets into it. The grantor determines the terms and conditions under which the trust operates.
  2. Trustee:
    • The trustee is the individual or entity responsible for managing and administering the trust according to the trustor’s instructions. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiary.
  3. Beneficiary:
    • The beneficiary is the person or entity for whom the trust was created. Beneficiaries can receive income generated by the trust or may have access to the trust’s assets under specific conditions outlined in the trust agreement.

There are several types of trusts, each serving different purposes. Some common types include:

  1. Living Trust (Revocable Trust):
    • Created during the grantor’s lifetime, this trust can be modified or revoked by the grantor. It helps manage and distribute assets, avoiding probate and ensuring a smoother transition of assets upon the grantor’s incapacity or death.
  2. Irrevocable Trust:
    • Once established, an irrevocable trust generally cannot be altered or revoked without the consent of the beneficiaries. This type of trust is often used for tax planning, asset protection, or charitable purposes.
  3. Testamentary Trust:
    • Created through a person’s will and only becomes effective upon the person’s death. It allows for the distribution of assets according to specific instructions outlined in the will.
  4. Special Needs Trust:
    • Designed to provide for individuals with disabilities without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits. It can supplement the beneficiary’s needs without disqualifying them from receiving assistance.
  5. Charitable Trust:
    • Created to benefit a specific charitable cause or organization. It allows the grantor to make a charitable contribution while potentially receiving tax benefits.

Trusts offer various advantages, including privacy, flexibility, and the ability to control the distribution of assets. They are valuable tools in estate and special needs planning, providing a means to protect and manage assets for the benefit of individuals or causes over time. The specific type of trust chosen depends on the goals and needs of the grantor. If you are considering the use of a trust in your plans, it is wise to seek advice from an elder law or special needs planning attorney.