A trust is legally defined as an arrangement in which assets are set aside for specific purpose(s) and retained by someone other than the beneficiary.
Some of the most common reasons for creating trusts are to safeguard the assets, to ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the event of your death, catastrophic illness or injury, or simply to lessen a tax burden.
Trusts also allow people to provide for disabled loved ones and/or make significant contributions to good causes.
Due to the complexity of creating these arrangements, and the financial, legal and tax implications, it is always best to contact a knowledgeable professional if you are interested in establishing a trust. Our trust lawyers can help you set up both unit and discretionary trusts.
What are unit trusts?
In a unit trust, the assets are allocated to the beneficiaries in accordance with a specific formula. This means that each beneficiary receives a set portion of the total assets.
The trustee in this type of trust structure legally owns the assets and is usually, but not always, a company whose directors are also “unit holders.” In addition to managing the trust, the trustee has certain capabilities conferred through the “trust deed” or contract used in the creation of this type of arrangement.
On the other hand, unit holders are the people who benefit from the trust. Specifically, they are allowed to receive its “income and capital.” These are the people who made the first contributions to the trust who may incur certain liabilities. They can also select and remove the trustee(s) from the trust.
What are discretionary or family trusts?
A discretionary trust is exactly what its name suggests. In this type of trust, which are often, but no always, created through wills, the trustee can determine how to divide any income generated through trust amongst beneficiaries over time.
A family trust is one type of discretionary trust. In most cases, the trustee(s) are usually family members tasked with keeping the assets and allocating them to the beneficiaries. However, choosing a relative as a trustee carries certain risks. Specifically, complications can crop up if the trustee dies or declares bankruptcy. Choosing a company to serve as trustee instead lessens these risks.
What we can do for you
At OMB Solicitors, our experienced trust lawyers will make sure your interests are protected by:
- Preparing trusts and trust deeds
- Checking for compliance with applicable legal and financial obligations
- Working with your accountant or financial advisor to come up with the best trust strategy for you
- Offering guidance for lessening inherent risks
Whether you’re thinking about creating a unit trust or a discretionary trust, it’s important that you don’t leave anything to chance. Phone us to schedule a consultation with a member of our trust law team today.