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What Is the Intent Of The Settlor When It Comes To Discretionary Language Within Their Trust?

by Caldwell Trust

intent-of-settlor.jpgEvery family has their own unique make-up and no two are alike – each member of a family has their own separate distinctions and when planning for loved ones, creating a Statement of Intent is important not only for the trustee, but also for the Grantor’s beneficiaries. It would be nice if all families got along, all children were gainfully employed and without issue, family meetings took place and all children were fully informed of their parent’s estate plan. This is generally not the case and doesn’t happen very often. Thus it is important for a Grantor to provide some guidance to the trustees.

The discretionary language within a trust is critically important and can be one of the most challenging aspects of trust administration. It is the trustee’s duty to interpret the grantor’s intention and to be the judge of what is in the best interest of a beneficiary. 


There are numerous reasons assets are held in trust; taxes, control, disability, creditor protection and the desire to provide for future generations to name a few. Thus, it is important for the Grantor to relay in some fashion the reasoning behind setting aside assets in trust.  


A Statement of Intent is personal and should be tied to the Grantor’s personal history or values which then tie into the Grantor’s intentions for the use of the trust funds. Finally, it should clearly articulate if the intent for the use of trust funds are for the Grantor’s children or multiple generations to benefit and why.

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