Trusts Explained


Trusts are sophisticated estate planning vehicles. They are established to provide a variety of different schemes. Trusts are usually more complicated estate planning documents then simple wills.

The Grantor

The person setting up a trust is referred to either as the grantor or settler. The grantor appoints individuals to be trustees and successor trustees. The grantor also names individuals who will be the beneficiaries of the trust.

Trusts are often part of an estate plan. The estate plan can involve, in addition to the trust, a will, a power of attorney, a health care proxy and a living will. Sometimes deeds have to be redone to allow the real estate to be placed into a trust.

Funding the Trust

Trusts are funded by the transferring of assets into the trust. Deeds can be modified to be placed into a trust. Bank accounts, stock portfolios, and all types of other assets can be placed into a trust.

Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts

The differences between revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts have to do with whether the trust can be changed, modified or revoked. Revocable trusts can be changed, modified or cancelled. Irrevocable trusts can usually not be changed, modified or cancelled without difficulties.

Testamentary Trusts vs. Lifetime Trusts

Testamentary trusts are trusts that are created in wills. Inter-vivos trusts which are sometimes referred to as lifetime trusts are created during the course of someone’s lifetime separate and apart from a will.

Creating and Understanding Trusts

Trusts are complicated documents and they should only be drafted by an experienced estates attorney. Trying to create a trust on your own would be equivalent to performing surgery on yourself.


Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is a member of a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been drafting wills, trusts and other estate documents for clients for more than 30 years. He can be reached at 800-344-6431 or e-mailed at