Why You Should Consider Setting Up A Trust Fund

In recent years, Singapore has seen a marked increase in the establishment of trusts, driven by its robust legal framework and attractive tax regulations.

This surge is not just among the affluent; middle-class families are also exploring trusts as a means to manage and protect their assets. The country’s reputation as a stable financial hub with strong privacy laws further bolsters its appeal as a premier destination for wealth management through trusts.

Importance of Trusts in Wealth Management and Asset Protection



Trusts serve as a crucial tool in wealth management and asset protection, offering a structured way to preserve wealth across generations.

They provide legal mechanisms to manage and distribute assets efficiently, minimizing exposure to risks such as creditor claims and legal disputes.

Furthermore, trusts help in maintaining family wealth in a controlled manner, ensuring that the settlor’s financial goals are met even after their demise.


What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement where one party, known as the settlor, transfers assets to another party, the trustee, who manages these assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiaries.

This fiduciary relationship is established to ensure that the assets are managed according to the settlor’s wishes and for the intended benefit of the designated parties. There are three key roles:

  • Settlor: The person who creates the trust and places assets into it.

  • Trustee: The individual or institution appointed to manage the trust assets according to the trust’s terms and for the beneficiaries' benefit.

  • Beneficiaries: The persons or entities who are entitled to receive benefits from the trust, such as income or other outputs from the trust assets.


Reasons to Consider Setting Up a Trust



Setting up a trust can be prohibitive and expensive. However, the advantages can outweigh the administrative trouble.

1. Asset Protection from Creditors and Legal Claims

Trusts can be designed to provide significant protection against creditors and legal judgments. By transferring assets into a trust, these assets typically move beyond the reach of creditors or legal actions against the settlor, providing a shield that preserves wealth even in adverse situations.

2. Succession Planning and Avoiding Probate

Trusts are a pivotal element in succession planning, allowing for the smooth transfer of assets without the need for probate, which can be a lengthy and public process. This ensures that beneficiaries receive their due without delay or public scrutiny of family assets.

3. Tax Advantages and Financial Efficiency

Setting up a trust in Singapore can lead to potential tax benefits, such as reduced tax liabilities on income generated by the trust assets. By distributing income among beneficiaries who may be in lower tax brackets, overall tax payments can be minimized, enhancing financial efficiency.

4. Protecting the Interests of Minors or Vulnerable Individuals

Trusts provide a reliable means to manage and protect the interests of minors or individuals with special needs. By placing assets in a trust, the settlor can set terms that control when and how these assets are distributed, ensuring that the beneficiaries are taken care of according to the settlor’s intentions.

5. Wealth Management Across Generations

Trusts facilitate long-term wealth management and preservation, making it easier to pass on wealth to future generations in a controlled and protected manner. They offer a structured approach to manage family wealth, ensuring that it is preserved against potential family disputes or financial mismanagement by future generations.

Types of Trusts in Singapore



Each type of trust offers unique advantages, particularly in managing assets, reducing tax implications, and providing for family members. It's essential to consult with professionals in estate planning to choose the right trust structure to meet specific financial and personal goals.

Living Trusts (Inter Vivos Trusts)

Living trusts are established during the settlor's lifetime and can be either revocable or irrevocable. Revocable trusts allow the settlor to retain control over the assets and make changes to the trust. In contrast, an irrevocable trust once established, removes the assets from the settlor's direct control, potentially reducing estate tax liabilities and avoiding the probate process. These trusts are often used for wealth management and can help minimize estate taxes.

Testamentary Trusts

These trusts are created as part of a will and become effective upon the settlor's death. Testamentary trusts are crucial in managing inheritance, especially when beneficiaries might not have the capacity or experience to handle large sums of money. They can help in reducing estate taxes and streamlining the probate process.

Special Needs Trusts

Aimed to support beneficiaries with special needs, these trusts ensure that beneficiaries have the financial support they require without compromising their eligibility for government assistance. They are an example of how trusts can align with broader social and family development goals by providing for family members who need additional care.

Education Trusts

Specifically designed to fund the educational expenses of the beneficiaries, these trusts can ensure that funds are used for intended purposes, like tuition fees. They help in planning for a family's future educational costs and are an integral part of wealth management.

Charitable Trusts

These trusts benefit charitable organizations or causes, potentially offering tax benefits to the settlor. They can be used to manage capital gains tax and estate tax liabilities, depending on how they are structured.

Discretionary Trusts

In discretionary trusts, the trustee manages the distribution of income and capital among the beneficiaries as they see fit, based on the trust terms. This flexibility is advantageous for addressing changing family needs and circumstances and can be particularly effective in wealth management and tax planning.

Fixed Trusts

Opposite to discretionary trusts, fixed trusts have specific terms that dictate exactly how distributions should be made. They offer less flexibility but greater certainty on the distribution of assets, helping to ensure that the settlor’s wishes are executed precisely. This type of trust can help in managing tax liability and ensuring fair distribution among family members.

Costs Associated with Setting Up and Maintaining a Trust



Setting up and maintaining a trust involves several costs that vary depending on the complexity of the trust, the type of assets involved, and the professional fees required for administration and legal advice.

  1. Initial Setup Fees: These fees include the costs of legal advice to draft the trust deed and other necessary documentation. Lawyers experienced in the estate planning process under Singapore law often handle these tasks. The complexity of the trust, such as those involving a real estate investment trust or a family business, can increase these costs.

  2. Annual Trustee Fees: Trusts require ongoing management to handle distributions, tax filings, and the general administration of the trust fund. Trustees often charge an annual fee, which can be a percentage of the trust assets. For larger trusts, especially those involved in financial affairs or managing a taxable estate, these fees can be significant.

  3. Legal and Consultation Fees: Over time, a trust may require additional legal consultation, especially if the trust involves complex issues like real estate investment or is a revocable trust. Modifying a trust or handling legal proceedings related to the trust assets or beneficiaries can incur additional costs.

  4. Tax Compliance and Preparation Costs: Trusts may need to file their own tax returns and manage tax payments, requiring the expertise of accountants. The effort to minimize tax liability for a trust and its beneficiaries often necessitates professional tax advice.

Legal Protections and Limitations

Trusts in Singapore are governed by several legal statutes and principles, providing a framework that ensures both protection and certain limitations for all parties involved.

  1. Legal Protections Under Singapore Law: Trusts are protected by the Trustees Act of Singapore, which outlines the responsibilities and powers of trustees. This act ensures that trustees manage the trust assets responsibly and in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Trusts, particularly those structured as irrevocable trusts, can offer protection against probate court and creditors, ensuring that the assets are preserved for the beneficiaries.

  2. Limitations of Trusts: While trusts offer numerous benefits, there are legal limitations to consider. For example, a revocable trust does not offer the same level of asset protection as an irrevocable one, as the settlor retains the ability to alter the trust. Additionally, the estate planning process must carefully adhere to Singapore law to ensure that all elements of the trust are legally valid and enforceable.

  3. Regulatory Compliance: Trustees must comply with regulatory requirements, including those related to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. This compliance is crucial, especially when the trust involves extensive financial affairs or operates within highly regulated sectors.

  4. Challenges in Legal Proceedings: Trusts can also be subject to legal proceedings, particularly in disputes over the interpretation of trust terms or the management actions of trustees. These proceedings can be complex and costly, emphasizing the importance of clear, well-drafted trust documents and knowledgeable legal counsel from the outset.

We're Here To Help

At Jacque Law, we understand that setting up a trust fund is an important decision that affects not only your financial security but also that of your future generations. Our dedicated team is committed to ensuring that your trust setup is fully compliant with Singapore law, tailored to meet your unique needs and objectives.

  1. Legal Compliance in Trust Setup: We guide you through every step of the trust establishment process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met. From drafting the initial trust deed to registering the trust, our legal expertise ensures that your trust is set up correctly. We pay particular attention to the specific regulations that govern different types of trusts, including those for real estate investment trusts or family business trusts.

  2. Handling Inheritance Disputes: Inheritance disputes can be a significant concern for many when setting up a trust fund. Our team specializes in designing trusts that minimize the potential for such disputes. By clearly defining beneficiary rights and the terms of distribution, we can help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts among your heirs. Our proactive approach includes detailed discussions to foresee and address potential family dynamics that could lead to disputes.

  3. Personalized Estate Planning: We believe that every family and individual has unique needs. Our personalized estate planning services integrate your trust arrangements into a broader estate plan, ensuring that all aspects of your wealth management are harmonized. We take into account not just legal implications but also tax efficiency and financial security to craft a comprehensive plan that reflects your wishes.


Jacqueline Chua, Managing Director

+65 6280 7388