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Trusts and Estate Planning

Every one of hundreds of trust deeds that I have read fails to ensure the founder’s legacy.

To understand this, we need to first understand what is a legacy. This is best done by example.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel died 126 years ago and yet we all know of a man named Nobel. Why? Because, after making a fortune from his invention of dynamite, he did not simply bequeath it to his kids (he didn’t have any), but rather set up what I call a legacy trust.

The terms of the trust are that

  1. the trustees may not diminish the trust assets and
  2. they must distribute trust income in a prescribed manner, in his case in the form of Nobel prizes.

Your legacy trust would be the same, in that it would stipulate (1) above and regarding (2), you would stipulate how the trust income must be employed.

Unfortunately, all the trust deeds that I have seen leave the control and distribution of trust assets and income at the entire discretion of future trustees. And because, being your descendants, they will invariably be beneficiaries as well, they are free to sell off the trust assets and enjoy the proceeds. End of your legacy!

So, be careful when you choose who will draft your trust deed.


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