Trusts are arrangements whereby property is managed by one person or entity (the “trustee”) for the benefit of another person or entity (the “beneficiary”). A trust is created when a person (known as the “settlor” or “trustor”) executes a written declaration that not only creates the trust, but also outlines specific provisions and conditions upon which the trust will be administered. Contained within the declaration of a trust are the identifications of the trustee(s) and the beneficiaries. Generally, there are only three requirements needed to establish a trust: 1) intent by the settlor/trustor to create a trust; 2) the property subject to the trust must be clearly defined; and 3) the trust beneficiaries must be clearly set forth.
Under a trust, profits, income, and even portions of the principal (the “corpus”) of the trust are eventually distributed to the trust beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. Quite often, trusts are used in lieu of a will, as they do not become public records and generally do not have to be probated. The most common types of trusts are the following: 1) revocable trusts; 2) irrevocable trusts; 3) charitable trusts; 4) testamentary trusts (trusts that are created within a will); and 5) constructive trusts (trusts that are court-decreed trusts over property held in expectation of the property’s reclamation by the true owner).
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