Legal Tip 116: Multiple Trusts as an Estate Planning Strategy

Discussion in 'Legal Issues' started by Terry_w, 21st Jan, 2016.

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  1. Terry_w

    Terry_w Structuring Lawyer and Finance Broker - all states Business Member

    18th Jun, 2015
    Multiple Trusts as an Estate Planning Strategy

    Imagine you control one trust, a discretionary trust. When you die the assets of the trust cannot be passed on via your will. The trust would continue on with someone else controlling it. Depending on the set up you might want to pass control to your children.

    Where you have more than 1 child then passing control to them can pose problems.

    2 or more children controlling one trust means possible arguments over whether the trust should sell a property, where it should invest, whether it should borrow further money etc etc.

    Where there are 3 children, it is possible that 2 could gang up on the 3rd and change the trustee and then appoint all the income and capital to themselves. The third can miss out completely. Many people say things along the line “oh this won’t happen to my family”, but it does happen a fair bit. Relationships now will be different to relationships in 20 years, especially where spouses are involved. It is often the spouse of the child that causes problems.

    A partial solution may be to plan ahead and set up multiple trusts so that control of separate trusts can be passed to separate children. Control of these trusts can then be passed separately to different children who can then control them on their own. They can then make decisions separate to the other children and go their own way.

    Over time it will be difficult to make the assets of each trust roughly equal, but you can supplement passing control of trusts with specific gifts from your estate (non-trust assets), insurance and superannuation.