A testamentary trust can be established under a will for either specific assets or for the balance of the Estate (after debts and making all other specific gifts).
Testamentary trusts can be used for a variety of purposes including:
A testamentary trust is a trust that is established by the will and comes into existence when probate of the will is granted. It is not brought to life until there is Probate.
A testamentary trust can be established under a will for either specific assets or for the residue/balance of the Estate (after debts and making all other specific gifts).
The will becomes the trust deed for the trust.
Where a testamentary trust is established, there are various requirements that a Testator must comply with.
The will sets the terms of the trust. The will should identify a Trustee (or Trustees), beneficiaries, an appointor (if necessary) and the assets that pass into the trust. The will can provide full discretion for the Trustee as to who should receive the capital and income of the trust. Alternatively, the trust may be established so that no discretion is given to the Trustee but the entitlements are fixed.
In many cases the Trustee established under the Will is the same person as the Executor of the Estate, but this need not necessarily be the case.
Testamentary trusts can be used for a variety of purposes but some of the more common purposes include:
Any property that can be passed through an Estate can be placed in a testamentary trust.
One of the technical aspects in drafting a will that includes a testamentary trust is the need to ensure that the maker does not delegate or leave the selection of the beneficiaries to another person. This means that the maker must nominate specific beneficiaries whom the trustee can choose between to benefit under the will.
Where any child under the age of 18 is a beneficiary of a testamentary trust the income that they are ‘presently entitled’ to will be excepted trust income.
The relevant rules of present entitlement apply and the income does not actually have to be given to them. The Trustee can establish a loan account in favour of the minor beneficiary and spend the money on behalf of the children for their education, maintenance, benefit or advancement.
The parents can take out a separate credit card to cover the expenses and have the account paid by the testamentary trust. This provides a clear audit trail.
Inheritances, like other assets, can form part of the property that is available to the Family Court to divide in the event of a marriage/defactorelationship breakdown and property dispute.
Assets placed in a properly structured testamentary trust may be capable of being kept outside the concept of this property and not included amongst those assets that are vulnerable to orders of the Family Court.
It is important to point out that the Family Court may, however, consider the presence of the trust in calculating what they consider to be an equitable/fair and reasonable distribution of the assets.
Where a beneficiary is having trouble with creditors or facing bankruptcy, then any assets that they receive under a Will could pass directly to their creditors. In these circumstances a testamentary trust can help keep the assets out of the reach of present and future creditors.
These assets and the income produced will still be available for family members and, in particular, the children of the bankrupt person.
Expert Advice from our Legal Specialists
The executor of your Will has responsibility to correctly and honestly distribute assets from your estate and other duties following your death.
We will advise on the content and structure & thereafter create wills, trusts, and other documents that provide how your assets are to be distributed.
When you have nominated a beneficiary and the nomination is valid under Superannuation law, the Trustee will act in accordance with that nomination.
By making a Will you document who will receive your assets and belongings after you die. A legally valid Will allows an Executor to apply for a Grant of Probate.