Trusts are one of the most important but not exclusive means of asset transfer between generations. We are all mortal; therefore, we need to face the question of how to transfer the assets accumulated throughout our lives to the next generation or use them for some other – usually charity – purpose if we do not have a descendant.
One of the most important aims of wealth planning is to eliminate the transfer and inheritance taxes for assets located worldwide. The Hungarian trust is a very effective tool to achieve this aim due to its special domestic treatment.
Probate proceedings show that in general it takes a long time to ascertain the content of the probate and the identity of the heir or owner. This is because in every inheritance case, the affected people need to wait for the approval of the state regarding the probate and its new owners. As a result, the time between the death of the testator and the recognition of the acquisition of ownership by the state may be rather prolonged, in extreme cases several years. Any legal dispute between the heirs may prolong the proceedings even more, and as a result, there is no person entitled to exercise ownership rights.
In the case of probate assets requiring active, daily decision-making, prolonged probate proceedings may result in the asset item losing some, or in the worst case, all of its value if there is no person authorized to make a decision.
A trust in the form of asset transfer between generations can be an alternative to a gift, a will, a contract of inheritance or intestate succession in the following cases:
- If the intention of the owner is to distribute the assets in full or in part among still living beneficiaries, or, in the case of a death trust, can stipulate allowances (asset allotment) contingent upon a flexible and complex set of conditions compared to the rules of a gift contract, a will, a contract of inheritance or intestate succession, which makes it possible to distribute the assets and/or their yield differently among the beneficiaries either in terms of time or ratio. The settlor may stipulate the date of capital/yield allotment in the trust deed, making it subject to a particular date, age, condition or event.
- Trusts may also be used to prevent squandering or if a person becomes unworthy. In this case, unlike in the case of testamentary disposition, the allowance may be allotted in instalments, even only for the yields, and it may be suspended or even terminated if certain specific conditions occur.
- If the settlor wishes to deviate from the obligatory inheritance rules, he can do it through a trust, freely deciding on who will receive a share of the assets and their yields at what time and to what extent.
- In the case of a so-called “multi-jurisdictional family”, when the members of the family live in the territories of different jurisdictions and their assets and investments are in different countries, a trust can be an efficient solution for preventing any jurisdictional collision if the settlor dies and there is the need to conduct probate proceedings in several countries.
- A trust can be a well-designed and institutionalised solution for providing care for incapacitated relatives, persons of minor age or relatives without an independent income, ensuring that the surviving spouse, the minor or the incapacitated family member will have appropriate benefits, education, etc. after the death of the settlor.
- If the settlor has children from several relationships, or the relations among the potential heirs is not unclouded and there is good reason to suppose that there will be a dispute about the estate, a trust is a good means to prevent such disputes and the loss of assets resulting from it.
- A trust is an important means of transferring a business in family ownership, that is, of well-designed and controlled asset transfer between generations, enabling the settlor to maintain his control over the assets during the period of trust. It can be used – among other things – to mitigate the risk of family feud in connection with the assets and there is a greater chance of keeping the assets undivided and continuing the family business successfully.