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What’s In A Trust?

Trust Lawyer

A trust comprises several essential elements that collectively create a legal arrangement for managing and distributing assets for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. These elements include the settlor who establishes the trust, the trustee who administers it, the beneficiaries who receive its benefits, the trust property (assets) being managed, and the trust’s purpose or objective. The terms and conditions outlined in the trust document guide the trustee’s actions and ensure that the trust’s goals are carried out in accordance with the settlor’s intentions. That said, it is also critical to work with an experienced trust lawyer to make sure these details are executed correctly. Dedicated legal guidance, such as the lawyers at Law Group of Iowa, will give you the confidence to create your trust with your desired intentions. Below, we’ve listed the different components of a trust for you to be aware of before you move forward in hiring an attorney.

Settlor (Grantor or Trustor)

The settlor, also known as the grantor or trustor, is the individual who establishes the trust. They are the person who creates and funds the trust by transferring assets into it. The settlor outlines the terms and conditions of the trust in the trust agreement or declaration, which is a legal document specifying how the trust will operate, who the beneficiaries are, and the powers and responsibilities of the trustee. The settlor’s wishes and intentions guide the overall purpose and objectives of the trust.


The trustee is a critical element of a trust arrangement. This is the individual or entity responsible for managing and administering the trust according to the instructions provided by the settlor in the trust document. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and to carry out the terms of the trust. Depending on the type of trust and its complexity, the trustee’s responsibilities may include managing assets, distributing income and principal, making investment decisions, and maintaining accurate records.


Beneficiaries are the individuals or entities designated to receive the benefits of the trust. They can be family members, friends, organizations, charities, or even the settlor themselves. The trust document specifies the beneficiaries and the manner in which they will benefit from the trust. Beneficiaries may receive distributions of income, principal, or both, based on the terms outlined by the settlor. Trusts can have multiple beneficiaries, each with specific rights and entitlements according to the trust’s provisions.

Trust Property (Assets or Corpus)

The trust property, often referred to as the “corpus” or “principal,” consists of the assets that the settlor transfers into the trust. These assets can include real estate, financial accounts, investments, personal property, and more. The trust property is held and managed by the trustee for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The trust document specifies how these assets should be managed, invested, and ultimately distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the settlor’s wishes.

Trust Purpose or Objective

Every trust has a specific purpose or objective that reflects the intentions of the settlor. The trust document outlines the goals and intentions of the trust, such as providing financial support for beneficiaries, managing assets during incapacity, facilitating charitable giving, or achieving certain tax planning objectives. The trust purpose guides the trustee’s actions and decisions, ensuring that the trust’s activities align with the settlor’s vision.

Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions of the trust are detailed in the trust agreement or declaration. This document outlines how the trust will operate, how the assets will be managed, how distributions will be made to beneficiaries, and any specific instructions or restrictions that must be followed. The terms can be customized to suit the settlor’s goals, whether they involve specific distribution schedules, conditions for receiving distributions, or other provisions that reflect the settlor’s intentions.