Trusts—frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How do I establish a trust?

Trust deeds need to be drawn up by someone experienced in drafting legal documents, and trusts in general.

Some private lawyers offer this service, or you can ask the Public Trustee.

We will help you safeguard the financial security of your loved ones by ensuring the terms of your trust are valid and appropriate.

In your Will, you may wish to leave a secure deposit for children, to be held until they turn a certain age. Alternatively, you may need to make provision in your Will for a person unable to look after themselves financially.

Our experienced and professional staff will help you decide which trust is most appropriate to your situation.

What types of trusts are there?

Child trusts

  • These are generally created in Wills and are managed for children until they turn 18 (or older, as specified in the trust).
  • The fund can be used for the children’s benefit (e.g. living expenses and education) or protected as a gift to be given to the child at an age specified in your Will. You specify the terms of the trust in your Will.
  • We can help you by providing income to your children that is tax effective.
  • These trusts are usually created to take effect if both parents die.
  • The choice of a reliable trustee is essential to ensure the funds are protected and applied where appropriate for the child’s benefit.

Trusts for incapable beneficiaries

  • These are trusts managed for the lifetime of someone who cannot manage their own financial affairs.
  • The trustee will have to be sympathetic to all needs, yet maintain a long-term goal for investment security.
  • The trustee can use capital or income or a mix of both to balance the person’s financial needs against other sources of income. The choice of trustee is vital, as the demands are ongoing and level of responsibility onerous.

Life estates

  • These trusts are set up to provide for accommodation and income stream for the lifetime of your chosen beneficiary
  • They are often used by people who have remarried and want to provide ultimate ownership of assets to their children rather than their second spouse, whilst enabling the spouse to make use of the assets during their lifetime.

Discretionary trusts

  • These trusts enable the trustee to use their discretion to split income between a family group for a period.
  • These trusts are tax effective as the trustee can vary the income paid depending on how much other income the beneficiary receives.
  • Although these trusts can be created in your lifetime, often your assets will be greater after death (superannuation, life insurance) giving you greater scope for this type of estate planning. There are tax advantages in establishing a trust through a Will.
  • The trustee needs to be responsible and flexible, while working together with your beneficiaries.

Charitable trusts

  • You may wish to provide a long-term benefit to a charity by providing income from your estate, rather than by giving an immediate gift.
  • As these trusts can be long term or even perpetual, it's vital to appoint a trustee like the Public Trustee who will continue to diligently administer the funds over the long-term life of the trust.
  • Queensland Gives may be the right choice for anyone wishing to establish a charitable trust where the capital is invested and the investment income is paid to the charity of choice. Queensland Gives is a trust set up and managed by the Public Trustee of Queensland. It is committed to serving our State’s communities by providing a permanent funding source for charity.

Who should I appoint as trustee?

You can appoint an individual or an organisation like the Public Trustee.

Carefully consider who you appoint as trustee. Trustees require—at the least!—an understanding of law and accounting. An inexperienced or unqualified trustee may make imprudent investments, spend allowances irrationally and generally deplete trust funds.

We offer a professional administration service. You can elect to have our financial specialists manage your trust. We have over 90 years’ experience in managing both personal and corporate trusts. We are impartial and audited by the state government. Most importantly, the Public Trustee is permanent which is essential considering the length of time a trust may exist.

If I am a trustee can I hand over my responsibilities?

The responsibility of a trustee is ongoing, complex and often onerous.

If you are a trustee or executor, you can ask us to take over the administration of the trust. This way, the beneficiaries will get the benefit of a professional trustee for the term of the trust.

What can the Public Trustee offer as trustee?

If you appoint us as trustee, you will get the following benefits:

  • We’re highly experienced at managing trusts—we manage thousands of trusts for people all over Queensland.
  • We’ll follow the terms of the trust closely—you can be sure your wishes will be followed.
  • You get a personal trust officer assigned to manage your trust. They have access to experts in law, taxation and investments and disability services who provide advice as needed.
  • We’re permanent. There will always be a Public Trustee to manage your trust.

As the appointed trustee, we will closely follow the terms of the trust. Depending on these terms, we may be required to use the funds for the support, education or benefit of a child. Other trusts may require us to invest the money for a period of years. As trustee, we have a duty to ensure the trust remains in a sound financial position and the needs of the beneficiary are met.

A personal trust officer will be appointed to manage the trust. These officers can be contacted directly to discuss any issues relating to the trust. They have access to a range of specialist support services in areas such as investments and financial planning, property, legal and taxation.

How can I find out more about establishing a trust?

During your free will-making appointment at your local Public Trust office, tell our staff that you would like to know more about setting up a trust. They will be able to provide you with information to help you decide what sort of trust you can establish.

Contact your local Public Trustee office and make an appointment with one of our officers to discuss establishing a trust.

Last published: 7/12/2023 3:18:44 AM