The period of time for which a trust is to operate is usually expressly prescribed in the trust instrument. A settlor can state that the trust shall last until the beneficiary reaches a particular age or until the beneficiary marries. When this period expires, the trust ends.
When the duration of a trust is not expressly fixed, the basic rule is that a trust will last no longer than necessary for the accomplishment of its purpose. A trust to educate a person's grandchildren would terminate when their education is completed. A trust also concludes when its purposes become impossible or illegal.
When all the beneficiaries and the settlor join in applying to the court to have the trust terminated, it will be ended even though the purposes that the settlor originally contemplated have not been accomplished. If the settlor does not join in the action, and if one or more of the purposes of the trust can still be attained by continuing the trust, the majority of U.S. courts refuse to grant a decree of termination. Testamentary trusts cannot be terminated.
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