Who are grantors, trustees and beneficiaries? - These are the essential parties in a trust.  Any particular individual may be in one, two or even three roles; however, all three roles may not be identical.  Think about that for a moment.  You grant your property in trust to yourself for your own benefit?  That's just plain old "ownership." Similarly, granting property in trust to another for that person's benefit is a gift, not a trust.

The grantor is also called a trustor or trustmaker.  A trustmaker can be one or more living persons or other legal entity such as a corporation.  The trustor must have legal capacity of majority age and sound mind.  The grantor must have legal title to, or power of appointment over the property to be granted.

The trustee is one or more persons or legal entities who agree to take possession or legal title to the granted property.  The trustee is obligated to abide by the terms of the trust documents as well as applicable statutes.  The relationship of a trustee to both the beneficiaries and grantor is one of absolute fiduciary trust.  In the typical estate trust where the grantor is also trustee and primary beneficiary with children named residual beneficiaries, it is very important that a client remember he or she is acting as a trustee rather than in a personal capacity.  Failure to do so can result in property falling outside the trust and the trust's purpose being defeated.

The beneficiary is one or more persons or legal entities entitled to receive the benefits of the trust.  There can be different classes of beneficiaries.  One of the most common is an income beneficiary.  As the name implies, the beneficiary receives all income from the trust property.  A second common beneficiary is the residual beneficiary who receives all the trust property after the trust is terminated.

The trust corpus is all the property place in trust, including retained profits and appreciation.

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