What is an annuity trust?

A trust allows a person to set aside his or her property (i.e.-real estate, cash, and stocks) to be managed by another individual for the benefit of others. The person creating the trust is often referred to as the settlor, the person managing the trust is known as the trustee, and those receiving the trust property directly or the benefit of the property are called beneficiaries. The settlor generally has a lot of leeway in choosing trustees and beneficiaries – they may be either living people or legal entities, such as companies and charities.

An annuity trust is one of several different types of trust. When establishing an annuity trust, the settlor puts property in the trust and the trustee not only manages the property but also pays the settlor or the beneficiaries a fixed income for a set period of time. 

Types of Annuity Trusts

Annuity trusts may be used for a variety of reasons. For instance, some people set up annuity trusts in order to lower the taxes on the sale of certain assets – this is called a private annuity trust. With a private annuity trust, the settlor’s property, such as real estate, is placed in the trust, sold by the trustee, and the trust pays out a lifetime income stream from the sale proceeds. The property can be sold in this manner without taxing the trust, as the trust is considered to have purchased the property from the settlor for its fair market value.

Since the trust property is equal to fair market value, it can be sold for fair market value and not be taxed. Rather than taxing the sale transaction, the annuity payments are taxed, which generally results in less tax. However, there were some changes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax code in 2006, and these changes may affect your ability to save money on taxes by using an annuity trust. Therefore, make sure you speak to an attorney with experience in annuity trusts before creating one in order to determine if any of the new rules apply to your situation.

Another type of annuity trust is a charitable annuity trust. A charitable annuity trust allows the settlor to leave any assets remaining in the trust at the end of its duration to a charity. For example, if the settlor places property in the trust, and the trustee pays the settlor or the trust’s beneficiaries a regular income from the property, then when the settlor dies, the remaining property will go to a charity chosen by the settlor.

Getting Legal Help

Annuity trusts are complex and have many rules. For instance, the trustee must be completely independent – the settlor or beneficiaries (whoever receives the annuity payment) must not have any control over the trust or trust property. Given the intricacy of these trusts, you may want to talk to a qualified trusts and estates attorney if you are considering an annuity trust.