What is a Trust?
Trusts are a very useful, if sometimes complex, legal way of giving your money, property or shares, to others, whilst ensuring that you, or others that you Trust (hence the name), retain some control over what happens to those assets. They are frequently used to avoid paying unnecessary Inheritance Tax, or for helping to solve long-term family or domestic situations, such as giving money to children or grandchildren, but at an age when they can be considered to be responsible.
You can create a Trust while you are alive, usually by a formal Trust deed. This is usually referred to as a "settlement", or you can create a Trust on your death in your Will (a "Will Trust"). Whichever method is used the document will set out what is being given away, who is going to look after it (the "Trustees" - who can include yourself in lifetime Trusts), who is to benefit from the gift (the "beneficiaries"), and any rules that the Trustees must follow when looking after the assets - for example what they can and cannot invest in; how the capital and income can be spent; and how long the Trust is to go on for.
Before setting up any Trust you should seek the advice of a Trust expert. There is an organisation called the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, who can provide you with a list of their members in your area. Their members come from the legal, accountancy, corporate Trust, banking, insurance and related professions, and are involved at all levels in the planning, creation and management of, and accounting for, Trusts and estates, executorship, administration and related taxes. Of course this means they are also experts in will-writing, probate and EPAs and not just Trusts.
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