Trust & Estate Resources
In Latin, the word “codicil” means “little will. A codicil is a formal document that amends the provisions of a will. The amendments may change, modify, or supplement the provisions of a will.
A very common and valuable provision seen in most family trusts and invariably in dynasty trusts is the spray or sprinkle provision. Where there is more than one beneficiary, this provision allows the trustee to distribute (spray) the income and/or principal among the beneficiaries in varying proportions as the trustee feels appropriate, having in mind their individual needs and circumstances from time to time. In other words, the trustee need not make equal distributions among the beneficiaries, but instead can vary the distributions according to their particular needs, which undoubtedly is exactly what the grantors would do were they alive.
In a civilized society, a legal mechanism for dealing with a deceased person’s property is essential. Think of the chaos that would result if, when someone died, the law allowed anyone free access to take all or any part of the deceased person’s property on a “first come” basis. Instead, we have developed a system that protects and sometimes directs the distribution of property on a persons death. Our laws recognize that some order must be maintained in the situation and so they provide, among other things, for what is called the right of “freedom of testation” and a legal process to deal with those estates that have exercised that right, as well as those that have not.
A trust has five main elements. First, a settlor transfers some or all of his or her property. Second, the property transferred by the settlor is designated trust property. Third, the trust property designated by the settlor is transferred with the settlor’s intent that it be managed by another. Fourth, the trust property designated by the settlor is transferred for management by a trustee. Fifth, the trust property designated by the settlor is managed by a trustee for the benefit of a beneficiary.
An express trust is either public or private. A public trust, also known as a charitable trust, is an express trust created for a charitable purpose. If an express trust is not a charitable trust, it is deemed to be a private trust. A private trust is an express trust created to benefit a few persons. This article discusses some aspects of public and private trusts.