A trust is a legal device often used in estate planning. A trust may be established in the trustor’s lifetime, or it may be established in the trustor’s will where it takes effect once the trustor dies and the will is admitted in probate. Generally, assets in a trust are distributed according to the trustor’s intent, which can be specified in the trust instrument or document.
If a trust instrument is not specific, the Probate Code gives trustees broad discretion to distribute the trust’s assets by: (1) liquidating them and distributing the proceeds between the beneficiaries (in cash distribution); (2) allocating equal shares in interest in the trust’s assets between the beneficiaries (pro rata in kind distribution); or (3) allocating whole assets separately to different beneficiaries (non-pro rata in kind distribution).
What is a trust?