Trust | Personal and business | Business Owner Solutions

There are three parties involved in any trust: the settlor, the trustee, and the beneficiary or beneficiaries. The settlor is the person whose property is transferred to the trust. This transfer can take place while the settlor is alive, in the case of an inter vivos trust, or it can happen upon the settlor's death when a testamentary trust is established.

The trustee is the person who becomes the legal owner of the trust property, and who is responsible for administering the trust in accordance with instructions provided by the settlor, the courts, or provincial statutes. Although the trustee holds legal title to the trust property, he or she holds the property in trust for the beneficial owners, also known as the beneficiaries.

The settlor may specify the terms and conditions of the trust including when and how much beneficiaries are to receive in terms of income or capital from the trust, and the administrative powers of the trustee. The settlor specifies these terms and conditions in a trust deed or indenture. In the case of an inter vivos trust, the trust deed must be prepared when the trust is established. In the case of a testamentary trust, the trust provisions are included in the testator's will, and thus the will becomes the trust deed after death. In the event of an intestacy (i.e., when an estate is not governed by a valid will), the deceased's estate is still held in a testamentary trust, but the terms of the trust are dictated by provincial legislation.

If the settlor fails to set out these terms and conditions in a trust deed or within his or her will, or if the estate assets are transferred to a court-appointed trustee in the event of intestacy, then the terms and conditions of the trust and the powers of the trustee will be dictated by the courts or by the provincial Trustee Acts.

Trusts can be used to:

  • Provide benefits to a minor until a certain age.
  • Provide benefits to a second spouse following the owner's death without disinheriting the first family.
  • Provide benefits to an incapacitated surviving spouse.

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