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What is a charitable trust?

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Setting up a charitable trust is a way you can leave a lasting legacy to a cause that means something to you - and it can last forever so that your generosity continues to benefit others long after you have gone.

A person or persons may decide by

  • Will,
  • entering a deed of trust, or
  • making a declaration

that certain property is to be applied in a particular way.

The person making a Will is called a 'testator'.  A person creating a trust while he or she is alive is called a 'settlor'.  The persons entrusted with carrying out the wishes of the testator or settlor are called 'trustees'.  In family and other private arrangements, the persons who will benefit are called 'beneficiaries'.  If someone declares publicly that they hold certain property for others, that person is equivalent to a trustee and those who will benefit are the beneficiaries.  In all these – a Will, a deed of trust or a declaration – the beneficiaries might be named (for example, my children A and B) or might be identifiable by description (for example, my grandchildren living at the date of my death).

Private arrangements of this nature are not registrable.  The trustees will administer the trust for the benefit of the named beneficiaries within the maximum time of 80 years that the law allows.

All trusts must make it clear what the purpose of the trust is, what property is the subject of the trust and who the trustees are to be. 


Last updated 5 January 2012


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