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Trust

Protection Of Beneficiary's Interest From Creditors

Various trust devices have been developed to protect a beneficiary's interest from creditors. The most common are spendthrift trusts, discretionary trusts, and support trusts. Such devices safeguard the trust property while the trustee retains it. Once funds have been paid to the beneficiary, however, any attempt at imposing restraint on the transferability of his interest is invalid.

Spendthrift Trusts A SPENDTHRIFT TRUST is one in which, because of either a direction of the settlor or statute, the beneficiary is unable to transfer his right to future payments of income or capital, and creditors are unable to obtain the beneficiary's interest in future distributions from the trust for the payment of debts. Such trusts are ordinarily created with the aim of providing a fund for the maintenance of another, known as the spendthrift, while at the same time protecting the trust against the beneficiary's shortsightedness, extravagance, and inability to manage his financial affairs. Such trusts do not restrict creditors' rights to the property after the beneficiary receives it, but the creditors cannot compel the trustee to pay them directly.

The majority of states authorize spendthrift trusts. Those that do not will void such provisions so that the beneficiary can transfer his rights and creditors can reach the right to future income.

Discretionary Trusts A discretionary trust authorizes the trustee to pay to the beneficiary only as much of the income or capital of the trust as the trustee sees fit to use for that purpose, with the remaining income or capital reserved for another purpose. This discretion allows the trustee to give the beneficiary some benefits under the trust or to give her nothing. The beneficiary cannot force the trustee to use any of the trust property for the beneficiary's benefit. Such a trust gives the beneficiary no interest that can be transferred or reached by creditors until the trustee has decided to pay or apply some of the trust property for the beneficiary.

Support Trusts A trust that directs that the trustee shall pay or apply only so much of the income and principal as is necessary for the education and support of a beneficiary is a support trust. The interest of the beneficiary cannot be transferred. Paying money to an assignee of the beneficiary or to creditors would defeat the objectives of the trust. Support trusts are used, for the most part, in jurisdictions that prohibit spendthrift trusts.

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