Irrevocable trust – what is it?
Irrevocable trust is a type of trust that cannot be modified or terminated by the grantor, once it has been created and funded. This means that the assets placed in the trust are permanently transferred out of the grantor’s estate and under the control of the trustee.
Once the assets have been placed in the trust, the grantor relinquishes all control over them and cannot change the terms of the trust or take the assets back. The trust is managed by a trustee who is responsible for distributing the assets according to the terms of the trust, which can include providing for the financial needs of beneficiaries, protecting assets from creditors, or achieving specific charitable or estate planning goals.
One of the main benefits of an irrevocable trust is that it can offer protection from creditors and potential legal claims since the assets are no longer considered part of the grantor’s estate. Additionally, the assets in the trust can be transferred to beneficiaries without going through probate, which can save time and reduce costs. However, because the grantor gives up control over the assets, an irrevocable trust should only be established after careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits.
What are the main provisions of an irrevocable trust?
The main provisions of an irrevocable trust will vary depending on the specific goals and needs of the grantor and beneficiaries. However, some common provisions that may be included in an irrevocable trust are:
- Trustee: The trustee is the person or entity responsible for managing the assets in the trust and carrying out the terms of the trust. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and to follow the instructions in the trust document.
- Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries are the individuals or organizations who will receive the benefits of the trust. They can be named specifically or can be identified as a group, such as “all of my grandchildren.”
- Distribution of assets: The trust document will specify how and when the assets in the trust will be distributed to the beneficiaries. For example, the trust might require that the assets be distributed in equal shares when the beneficiaries reach a certain age, or it might allow for periodic distributions for education or medical expenses.
- Trust purpose: The trust document should clearly state the purpose of the trust, such as providing for the education of the grantor’s grandchildren or supporting a charitable organization.
- Trust duration: The trust may have a specific duration, such as 20 years, or it may be designed to last for the lifetime of the beneficiaries.
- Powers of the trustee: The trust document may give the trustee certain powers, such as the power to invest the assets, to make distributions to the beneficiaries, or to appoint a successor trustee.
- Restrictions on beneficiaries: The trust document may include certain restrictions on the beneficiaries, such as prohibiting them from selling their interest in the trust or using the assets for certain purposes.
IRREVOCABLE TRUST – ADVANTAGES, AND DISADVANTAGES
Overall, an irrevocable trust can be customized to meet the specific goals and needs of the grantor and beneficiaries and can provide a variety of benefits, such as asset protection, tax savings, and control over the distribution of assets.
While there are advantages to setting up an irrevocable trust, such as asset protection and tax benefits, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of:
- Loss of control: Once assets are placed in an irrevocable trust, the grantor gives up control of those assets. This means that the grantor cannot make changes to the trust or take assets out of the trust without the permission of the beneficiaries.
- Limited flexibility: The terms of an irrevocable trust cannot be changed once it is established. This means that the grantor cannot change the beneficiaries, change the trustee, or make any other changes to the trust.
- Difficulty in accessing assets: Since the grantor gives up control of the assets placed in the trust, it may be difficult to access those assets in case of an emergency or unexpected financial need.
- Tax implications: While there are tax benefits to setting up an irrevocable trust, there are also potential tax implications, especially if the trust holds income-producing assets.
- Time-consuming and expensive: Setting up an irrevocable trust can be time-consuming and expensive, as it involves drafting legal documents, transferring assets, and managing the trust over time.
- Permanency: Once the grantor establishes an irrevocable trust, they cannot revoke or terminate it. This means that the grantor loses any potential benefit that they might have gained by retaining control over the assets.