What is a Trust and What Are The Main Types of Trust?

Article by:
Wentworth Cecil Gurney,
Trainee Solicitor

What is trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person owns an asset but holds it for the benefit of another person. The legal owner of the asset is called the trustee. The person who places the assets into the trust is called the settlor. The person who has the use or benefit of the asset, or receives income from the asset, is called the beneficiary.

Types of Trusts

Trusts can be categorised by the type of interest that the beneficiary has in the trust property.

1. Bare Trust

In a bare trust, the beneficiary is unconditionally entitled to both any income generated by the asset and to the asset itself (the capital). However, the asset is legally owned by the trustee for the time being.

2. Interest in a Possession Trust

In the case of a beneficiary having an interest in possession trust, the beneficiary has a right to benefit from the asset (usually this involves a right to receive the income, but it can also include the right to use or benefit from the asset) for a period of time but is not entitled to the asset itself. The person who has the right to those benefits, for the time being, is called the life tenant. When the life tenant’s right to receive the benefits from the trust ends, the trust assets will pass to another person or legal entity.

estate plannning - Trust

3. Discretionary Trust

In a discretionary trust, none of the beneficiaries has an automatic right to the income from the trust, and sometimes none of the beneficiaries has an automatic right to the capital. Instead, the trustees have discretion regarding how the income, and sometimes the capital, is used. The trustees usually have discretion regarding who to make distributions to, the amount to distribute, and when to make distributions.

The contents of the above article is a broad overview, and should not be relied upon without obtaining specialist advice that is specific to your circumstances. Shortlands Law Firm accept no liability resulting from your reliance on this article.

Shortlands Law Firm offer expert advice and assistance in relation to Trusts and inheritance tax. Please contact us at +44 (0)207 629 9905 or email if you would like more advice about this complex area of law.

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