Firstly, what is a Trust?
A trust is a legal agreement in which a person (the ‘trustee’) has agreed to look after the assets (‘property’) of a second person (the ‘settlor’) for the benefit of a third person (the ‘beneficiary’).
There are a number of situations where creating a trust will be a good financial decision. For instance, if you wish to protect your inheritance for your children, provide your spouse with an income, or protect your assets in the event of death or future incapacity, creating a trust may be the best option for you and your loved ones.
At The Wills, Tax & Trusts Group, our trusted financial advisers can assist in your trust and estate planning, to ensure that your assets are protected, and your loved ones are looked after. Read on to find out more about our trust and estate planning services, and how we can help you.
Our Trust Services
Our team of trust advisers are on hand to help you find the best trust options for you.
We frequently use discretionary pilot trusts that are established during the person’s lifetime with a £10 trust fund. This allows all our trusts to be used by clients during their lifetime and provides a greater level of flexibility. These trusts hand a lot of power to the trustees. The trustees’ discretion is used to decide how the trust is run, how to use the trust’s income and even to decide how the assets in the trust are distributed.
We highly recommend a Letter of Wishes is put in place alongside the trust. This provides guidance to the trustees regarding how the settlor would like the trust assets to be handled. Again, this is something that our advisers can assist you with, to ensure each step of the trust creation process runs as smoothly as possible.
Why Create a Trust?
There are a number of benefits to creating a trust to protect your wealth, from the financial benefits to the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that your assets are in safe hands. Here are just some of the advantages to creating a trust:
- Avoid unnecessary fees and taxes. Inheritance Tax (IHT), Capital Gains Tax, and even certain forms of income tax can be minimised through the use of trusts.
- Organise your estate. Ensure that each of your family members are loved ones are provided for, with clear instructions on how your trust should be distributed.
- Protect your inheritance, even after your estate is administered. A trust can protect your loved ones’ inheritance from life events like bankruptcy and divorce.
- Avoid delays. Grant of probate can cause delays in the administration of your estate. Having assets held in trust can speed up the process, meaning your loved ones will be provided for more quickly in the event of your death, or incapacitation.
Contact our Trust and Estate Planning Experts
Clients throughout Berkshire have benefitted from our trust advisory services, and we can help you as well. For a free, no-obligation initial discussion, just call 0118 934 7920, or visit our contact page for more options.
Trust and Estate Planning: Frequently Asked Questions
What does trust and estate planning mean?
Estate planning is the process where an individual makes arrangements about how their assets will be managed or distributed in the event of death or future incapacity. Trust and estate planning uses trusts to protect certain assets such as money or property by having them held by trustees, who agree to take responsibility for those assets.
What is the role of trusts in estate planning?
Although there are many aspects of estate planning which can be undertaken without the use of trusts, trusts are intended to protect an individual’s assets in the event of their death, or inability to manage the assets any longer. Close friends or family members are often called upon to be trustees, so that an individual can be competent that their assets, whether that includes money or property, will be in trustworthy hands.
Trusts protect individuals from financial abuse, as well as beneficiaries who might otherwise be at risk of losing their inheritance. It is a sad fact that unscrupulous people may attempt to exploit loopholes in the law to enrich themselves at the expense of others. Careful estate planning and the use of trusts can help to protect you and your loved ones against this risk.
What are the different types of trust?
The most common types of trusts are revocable trusts, and irrevocable trusts.
Revocable trusts are trusts which can be changed once they are created. Changes could include adding or removing beneficiaries, modifying the terms of the trust, or making alterations to how the trust will be managed. Revocable trusts are also sometimes known as living trusts.
Irrevocable trusts, unlike revocable trusts, have resolute terms which cannot be changed once the agreement is signed – except in exceptional circumstances. Any changes must be agreed by beneficiaries or the result of a court order. Otherwise, settlor’s cannot make changes to these trusts once they have been created.
What other types of trust exist?
Some other types of trusts include:
The most common form of absolute trust is when an individual (the settlor), entrusts another individual (the trustee) with the responsibility of holding a set amount of assets on behalf of a third party (the beneficiary).
Absolute trusts are often set up by parents, in order to protect assets or money for their children, prior to their coming of age. The terms of absolute trusts are decided by the settlor, to be enacted by the trustee, and they are typically very exact and specific to the settlor’s wishes.
Within discretionary trusts, a settlor will place assets under the control of a trustee, to be distributed as they see fit. This may include money, property, or other assets to be distributed between beneficiaries.
The terms of discretionary trusts must still be clear and concrete, but compared to absolute trusts, the trustee has more responsibility in terms of distributing the trust.
Interest in Possession trusts
An interest in possession trust enables the beneficiary to receive an income generated by the assets in the trust (for instance, if the trust includes funds which have been invested). This beneficiary would be known as a lifetime owner, and upon their death, the trust may be administered to other parties, or another named beneficiary.
A famous example of an Interest in Possession trust would be the Duchy of Cornwall, the beneficiary of which is the sitting Duke of Cornwall.
What is the best trust for estate planning?
With so many options, it can be difficult to know which type of trust is best for you, with regard to your estate, your personal family situation, and several other factors. The best way to determine which type of trust is best for you is to speak with a trusted financial advisor.
A financial advisor, or trust and estate planning expert, will help you to catalogue your assets, determine your plans for your estate, and compile a list of beneficiaries you wish to support in the event of your death or incapacitation. Our advisors at The Wills, Tax & Trust Group will also be able to advise on topics such as inheritance tax.
There are many trust options available, including revocable and irrevocable, as well as absolute and discretionary trusts. Allow one of our experts to help you by filling out the enquiry form above. A member of our team will be in touch shortly to arrange a consultation.
How can I create a trust?
The process of creating a trust can vary slightly, depending on the type of agreement being made (e.g., how many beneficiaries will be involved, how many trustees will be appointed, and more). We recommend having a clear understanding of what your assets are, and how you wish your money to be distributed, so that an experienced trust advisor can help you decide upon the best type of trust for your estate.
The trust agreement will need the input of a solicitor, to ensure the trust agreement is agreed by all parties, before any transfer of assets takes place. Creating a trust is a serious legal and financial decision, but with the right help and advice, it should be a simple, transparent exercise.
Can you avoid Inheritance Tax with a trust?
Although you cannot avoid inheritance tax, the use of trusts can help to make sure that you don’t pay more inheritance tax than necessary. By placing assets into a trust, you can protect your estate, and your beneficiaries’ inheritance, from avoidable fees and tax. This is why effective trust and estate planning is so vital, to preserve your wealth and make sure it goes towards supporting the ones you love, or a cause you care deeply about.
What does putting a house in trust mean?
The assets included in a trust don’t have to be liquid. As well as money, properties, and even investments can be included in a trust agreement and placed in the care of a trustee. This could include your family home, which can be placed in a trust to ensure it is kept for the beneficiary.
Can I put my house in trust to avoid care home fees?
Although a property may be placed in a trust to protect it, and preserve the asset for a named beneficiary, there can be complications which arise when care home fees are involved.
Although it is your right to place property you own into a trust, if your local authority suspect this has been done to avoid payment of outstanding fees, they may challenge you. They may claim this to be a deliberate deprivation of assets, and use this as grounds to recover any outstanding debts via a court order.
Who owns the property in a trust?
The trustees are the official owners of any property or assets which are held in a trust, until such a time as the assets are distributed to their beneficiaries. Once the trust agreement is signed, the settlor that created the trust is no longer the owner of any property or assets held within it.
Can property left in trust be sold?
A trustee may be able to sell a property which has been left in trust, as long as this is confirmed by the terms of the trust agreement, and they are acting on the beneficiaries’ behalf. Selling a property held in trust as a trustee does involve certain checks and protocols, and we would strongly recommend consulting a financial advisor or trust expert before listing the house for sale.
Trust and Estate Planning Resources
If you’d like more resources or guidance on how to manage your estate and the potential benefits of setting up a trust, feel free to browse our collection of free financial guides.
You may like to start with our Guide to Tax and Trusts Planning. This guide provides simple advice about how to use trusts to protect your assets, and what the benefits of trust and estate planning can be, from our experts at Wills, Tax & Trusts.
Or, if you’d like to speak to one of our advisors, you can reach us by filling out the enquiry form above, or visit our Contact page for more options.