Discretionary Trust

A Discretionary Trust is a contractual agreement between the settler (owner of the policies) and the trustees (who look after the policies). It provides a discretionary right to the trustees to decide about the beneficiary (person who will receive the funds). If the owner of the policies (settler) puts any restrictions on the trustees, then the basic essential of a discretionary trust becomes invalid.

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A settler can guide the trustees regarding the distribution of funds to the beneficiary, but cannot impose any restriction. A Trust Deed is to be signed by the parties that are, settlers and the trustees. After that, the assets are transferred to the trustees in their names.

Parties on Discretionary Trust

The Settler-The Settlor is the person who gives his life policy to the trustees and does not claim any right after transferring it to the trustees. The settlor will have limited rights in the policy after entering into the trust deed. There can be joint settlers' as well.

The Trustees- Trustees are the person who takes ownership of the policies of the settlor. They mainly look after the trust and distribution of funds among the potential beneficiaries. They have the discretionary power to decide as to which beneficiary will get the fund and at what time.

The Beneficiaries-The Beneficiaries are the persons who receive the funds from the trust fund. They are mentioned in the Trust Deed but it is not mandatory that all the beneficiaries will get the amount from the trust fund.

The Trust Deed- It is a contractual document which creates the discretionary trust. The settlor and trustees must sign the deed. The Trust Deed lays down all the details of the policy that is transferred to the trustees. It is a basic document of the Discretionary Trust and trustees are bound to adhere to the provisions of the trust deed.

The Letter of wishes- The letter of wishes gives a wider perspective of the trust to the trustees. It gives a detailed vision as to what the Settlor wants to be done in the trust. However, trustees are not bound to follow the letter of wishes as to the Trust Deed, but it guides the trustees to manage the funds and make the payments to the beneficiaries efficiently.

The Policy Documents- All the important documentation which talks about the policy are included in these documents.


  1. It ensures that the money paid from the trust can be made to the people directly, instead of following any lengthy process.
  2. It minimizes the Inheritance Tax of the person as assets are not part of the beneficiary's estate.
  3. The funds & payments can be controlled


  1. The trust is subject to CLT (Chargeable Lifetime Transfer).
  2. If the CLT is more than the current reporting levels, then reporting has to be done.

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