The use of trusts in family asset protection and wealth planning can be traced back to the time of the Roman Empire and have been in constant use ever since. They allow one person (the trustee) to hold and manage assets for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries). There are many potential benefits for a family of entering into a trust arrangement over their assets – for example, it permits the ownership of the assets to remain unbroken throughout many generations of the same family, instead of periodically being subject to heirship and probate rules, which can adversely affect the asset base and result in burdensome and costly additional administration.
The terms of a family trust are drafted to meet the specific needs of the family concerned; the types of trust most often used are ‘discretionary’ – where the trustee has full discretion over how the capital and income of the trust is used for the beneficiaries – and ‘interest in possession’ – where one or more of the beneficiaries has specific rights – most commonly, to receive the income generated by the trust assets. There are other types of trust such as ‘partially discretionary’, ‘reserved powers’ and ‘purpose’ trusts, all of which may have their place in a well-considered plan for managing a family’s wealth.
For some families, setting up a Private Trust Company (PTC) to act as the trustee of their family trusts, instead of using a professional corporate trustee, may be desirable. Landmark provides a full range of relevant options in such cases, including company and trust establishment, trust administration and corporate services.