When a bottle of wine is decanted, it’s poured from one container into another. When a trust is decanted, trust assets are poured from an old trust into a new trust with more favorable terms.
Why Should a Trust Be Decanted?
Trusts are decanted to escape from a bad trust and provide beneficiaries with more favorable trust provisions and benefits.
Here are 5 strong reasons to decant your trust:
1. To clarify ambiguities or drafting errors in the trust agreement. As trust beneficiaries die and younger generations become the new heirs, vague provisions or mistakes in the original trust agreement may become apparent. Decanting can be used to correct these problems.
2. To provide for a special needs beneficiary. A trust that is not tailored to provide for a special needs beneficiary will cause the beneficiary to lose government benefits. Decanting can be used to turn a support trust into a supplemental needs trust, thereby supplementing, but not supplanting, what government benefits cover.
3. To protect trust assets from the beneficiary’s creditors. A trust that is not designed to protect the trust assets from being snatched by beneficiary’s creditors can be rapidly depleted if the beneficiary is sued, gets divorced, goes bankrupt, succumbs to business failure, or suffers a health crisis. Decanting can be used to convert a support trust into a full discretionary trust that beneficiary’s creditors will not be able to reach.
4. To merge similar trusts into a single trust or create separate trusts from a single trust. An individual may be the beneficiary of multiple trusts with similar terms. Decanting can be used to combine trusts into one trust thereby reducing administrative costs and oversight responsibilities. And, on the other hand, a single trust that has multiple beneficiaries with differing needs can be decanted into separate trusts tailored to each individual beneficiary.
5. To change the governing law or situs to a different state. Changes in state and federal laws can adversely affect the administration and taxation of a multi-generational trust. Decanting can be used to take a trust, governed by laws that have become unfavorable, and convert it into a trust that is governed by different and more advantageous laws.
You’re Not Stuck With Your Trust: We’ll Help You Escape
We include trust decanting provisions in the trusts we create. Including trust decanting provisions in an irrevocable trust agreement or a revocable trust agreement that will become irrevocable at some time in the future is critical to the success and longevity of the trust. Such provisions will help to ensure that the trust agreement has the flexibility necessary to avoid court intervention to fix a trust that no longer makes practical or economic sense.
You and your loved ones don’t need to muddle through with outdated and inappropriate trust provisions. If you are interested in adding trust decanting provisions to your trust or would like to have the decanting provisions of your trust reviewed, please call our office at 480-776-6055.
Whitney Sorrell is a tax attorney who helps his clients with estate planning, sophisticated tax structures and business formation. He is a former IRS Agent and CPA.