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Trusts in Canadian Estate Planning

Stuart Bollefer

Stuart Bollefer is a Canadian tax lawyer with Aird & Berlis in Toronto, Ontario. One of Stuart Bollefer’s professional interests is the role of trusts in estate planning.

Using a trust, an individual (known as the settlor) can control how her or his estate is distributed to heirs. Under Canadian law, settlors can set up two kinds of trusts: inter vivos, to be established during the settlor’s lifetime; or testamentary, to be established upon the settlor’s death. Persons receiving assets through the trust are known as beneficiaries. Trustees, who carry out the wishes of the settlor, administer both types of trusts..
The settlor selects who moves into the roles of trustees and beneficiaries if either dies. He or she also determines if new beneficiaries can be added or existing ones are taken out, and stipulate how terms of the trust can be changed.
Other settlor decisions include which assets go into the trust, what parts cannot be changed, how the trust ends, and the disposition of any assets remaining in the trust at that time. Settlors also define the authority of trustees to manage, invest, and distribute assets.
Beneficiaries have little or no say in which assets are in the trust, or how or when they are given out.

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