Setting up a Trust for your EstateSetting up a Trust
A trust account is a legal arrangement that allows you to transfer your assets to your desired beneficiaries. The main parties of a trust arrangement are the grantor, trustee and beneficiary.
You -- the person or persons who establish the trust -- are called the grantor (or co-grantor). The trustee is the individual or institution that acts as a fiduciary agent to manage the transfer and disposition of assets to the beneficiary.
How is a trust different from a will? A will merely stipulates how you want your assets distributed after you die. A trust formalizes how those assets will be distributed. A trust can be used to ensure that the assets you leave to a foundation or other charitable organization, or to your loved ones, are not consumed too quickly.
A living trust allows you to transfer assets while you are alive. You can also revoke or modify a living trust. This kind of trust is called a revocable living trust. A living trust also allows you to avoid probate, which can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
To establish a living trust, you name yourself as trustee in a declaration-of-trust document. If you have a spouse, you are co-trustees. You also designate a successor trustee to take over as trustee after you die.
You may have heard of a blind trust. A blind trust is a trust agreement that does not specify to either the grantor or beneficiary how the trust assets are being managed. In other words, the grantor has neither control nor knowledge of the assets. As a matter of course, the President of the United States is required to keep his assets in a blind trust so that access to the most privileged and sensitive information is not influenced by his investments or vice versa.