De-mystifying Trusts & Trust Planning
25 Trust Types and Common Uses

Trusts started evolution within the Court of Chancery in England and Wales. Presided over by the chancellor of the High Court, began to develop in the 15th century as a court of equity to provide remedies not obtainable
in the courts of common law.


The use and evolution of trusts and foundations is a special interest in our firm.  Over 30 years of Australian and international expertise in trusts and their uses.

There are a wide variety of trusts with many common names but the essence of the trust lies in the principles of equity which were developed in the courts of Chancery. This was a court set up separately from the existing court system by the King.  Today, courts of chancery or equity are still maintained as separate jurisdictions (fused in Australia) in certain areas of the Commonwealth and in some states of the United States.

Global Trust Types & Common Uses

We list below 25 types of trust in their common usage and welcome any enquiry from you on any aspect of trusts, their establishment, their operation amendment or used for asset protection and succession purposes.

Due to our 30 years of global experience we have worked with most of the different types of trust below. Add to this list the various types of foundations that are available and private trustee companies including multiple jurisdiction nuances, 

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No. Name What is it? Typical Uses
Asset Protection Trust
Ring fences your assets from creditors and insolvency risk
Prevents clawback of assets transferred to the trust using say the Cook Islands law or by limitation periods via the effluxion of time.
Bare trust
The most simple type of trust With one beneficiary and one trustee
Where the trustee is usually just a nominee of the beneficiaries. For example, X holds the this asset in trust for Y and there is no deed or property owners written obligations. Commonly used to split income or assets.
Charitable trust
A trust where the capital or income is to be used for a charitable purpose
Charities are usually the residual beneficiaries of many trusts, but maybe used to obtain a charitable registration
Constructive or Implied trust
Imposed by law – typically a court order
A court may find that it would be unconscionable to deny one party a beneficial interest in an asset held by another. Origins in dishonest trustees.
Discretionary trust
A trust where the trustee has discretion to distribute capital or income and the beneficiaries have no right to receive anything, but it is enough to be simply to be considered for a distribution from the trust.
Used for tax and asset protection purposes, whereby a beneficiary is considered not to have any entitlement. However, the trustee can decide to distribute all or nothing to one beneficiary or a class of beneficiaries and can also segregate in separate types of income streams.
Family Trust
The trust with the beneficiaries are family members
Used to protect assets within the family or bloodline where the class of members may include even unborn children. Sometimes refers to a discretionary trust set up for tax planning purposes or asset protection purposes in Australia and New Zealand.
Fixed trust
A trust where the entitlements are the beneficiaries are fixed
Fixed entitlements commonly used in high net worth family situations where the rights of the family members are fixed.
Grantor trust
Commonly used in the USA whereby the person who transfers the assets of the trust retains control over the trust and not the trustee
If the grantor retains control over the trust and the assets of the trust, then the grantor is still considered the owner and may be taxable for estate duty purposes in the USA. In other jurisdictions, the grantor is also known as the settlor.
Hybrid trust
A trust that combines various elements of fixed entitlements and discretionary entitlements
A combination of a fixed unit trust whereby beneficiaries have fixed entitlements for say land tax purposes, but discretionary entitlements for streaming of income. Can combine various aspects of all other types of trusts.
Life interest trust
A trust that gives an interest to a beneficiary for their lifetime
For example, X may live in this house rent-free for life but it is granted in ownership to Y. A life interest is a interest and even though the house may be unwise name, it is a lifetime interest trust.
Next Gen Trusts
Estate planning trusts for future generations of family
Common in New Zealand and may be implemented via wills or whilst the settlor law is alive.
Listed property trust
Listed on the stock exchange and the structure used. Is a unit trust with units of entitlement as opposed to shares
Common used or commercial and other properties to be held via such a structure as unit holders have beneficial interests in the property which does not arise if they have shares, ie allows for depreciation write-offs for example.
Non-resident trust
A trust where the trustees are non-resident
The general principle is that the residence of the trust is usually determined by the residence of the trustees. The structure commonly used in the UK. Where there are multiple trustees, then ae the majority of them non resident?
Philantrophic trusts
Trust established for charitable purposes
May qualify as a charity with tax and other benefits or as a non-profit. Interchangeable with charitable trusts, although the purpose of philanthropic trust may be more directly a charitable purpose.
Philantrophic trusts
Trust established for charitable purposes
May qualify as a charity with tax and other benefits or as a non-profit. Interchangeable with charitable trusts, although the purpose of philanthropic trust may be more directly a charitable purpose.
Private trust company , as opposed to a public trustee company
The company that specifically acts as a trustee for your trust that is but not a public trustee company.
Resulting trust
A trust that comes into operation by operation of law or court order, i.e., the result is a trust
There is a presumption that a trust exists by virtue of the nature of the transaction; for example, the money is provided by one person, but the property is put in another person’s name. A rebuttable presumption on evidence.
Revocable trust
A trust that may be revoked by the grantor settlor
This type of power usually negates the purpose or intention of the trust, however, certain US states allow for this power to exist within a valid trust for inheritance tax and other purposes, such as Nevada. This effectively allows you to say you don’t own the assets and then reclaim them later on. By revoking the trust. Considered ineffective in many other jurisdictions.
Service trust
A trust that provides services to another trust
Commonly used to split income, for example, personal exertion income is not considered transferable to another, but if you set up a service trust which provides you with desks and property for a mark-up over cost. This effectively allows some of your income to be transferred to a service trust as it now becomes income from property. Common in Australia for lawyers and other professionals.
A superannuation trust which accumulates retirement benefits for family members
The trustee is essentially a company of the family members themselves, who can then manage their own funds for retirement as opposed to having a public trustee or third-party do this on their behalf. May be used to leverage, or invest in art of crypto assets.
S.T.A.R. Trusts
STAR trusts – A Cayman Islands regime for trusts
Gifting your assets to a trustee, but allowing you to maintain control over the trustee via an enforcer or protector or with the trust deed. Very useful but may be seen as an ineffective transfer of rights over the assets from the viewpoint of other jurisdictions
Testamentary trust
All will trusts – trusts that are created for beneficiaries of your assets or a your will
Clauses in your will create the trusts and these are very effective for estate planning purposes; for example, my children to inherit once they are 25 or for my grandchildren to inherit and my children only to be able to have the income.
Unit trust
A trust where the beneficiary’s rights and entitlements comprise of units which may be tradable or quantifiable
Commonly used in commercial situations where you may have a number of beneficiaries that come together as opposed to shareholders and where the units are redeemable or transferable; i.e. a commercial property that is divided into 100 units and held by a unit trust is then sold or provided to beneficiaries in terms of the proportion of contribution to the 100.
VISTA trusts
Virgin Islands special trust arrangements – unique features
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) by law allows these trusts and the trustee to have as trust assets operating businesses, which typically is against the nature of the trust as the trustee should only be there to protect trust assets and not do business with them. Removes the trustee from responsibility in this area and where there are commercially operated activities, this is extremely useful.
Will trust
A trust that is est by operation of the will – once you die – also known as testamentary trusts
These trusts are created in your will and operate the same way as trust that may be considered via a deed of trust while you are alive – contrasted with living trusts

What our clients say

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