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What Happens When a Trust Ends?

While the word “trust” tends to conjure up images of tennis rackets, golf clubs and days spent at the country club, trusts can be valuable estate planning tools for many Massachusetts residents. A trust gives your estate plan a level of privacy that a will cannot because wills have to go through probate. It also gives you greater control over how your assets will be disbursed.

When you are setting up a trust, you are allocating certain assets into that trust and giving directions on how those assets will be given to the beneficiaries. It is common for trusts to be set up to disburse the trust over the course of many years, such as payments when the beneficiary turns 18, 21 and 35. However, no matter how the trust is set up, the assets will eventually run out or the trust will come to an end.

The simplest way a trust ends is that all of the terms of the trust were followed without any issue, and the trust is completely empty of all property and assets. However, it is also possible for the trust to have property remaining when it ends. One example of this would be if a trust specified that a beneficiary was to receive the property in the trust after a marriage or after graduating for college, but the person never did either of these things. At that point, the property in the trust would have to be distributed.

If there are no instructions from the grantor on how the remaining assets should be distributed in the case of the trust ending without being fully disbursed, the beneficiaries and the trustee must come to an agreement. This is where disputes can arise and the courts can come into play. Grantors can prepare for this and ensure that their estate plans are as thorough as possible by working with an estate planning attorney to specify instructions for the end of the trust.

Source: FindLaw, “How Does a Trust End?” accessed Feb. 19, 2015

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