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Trust Deed

Updated: Jan 25

Trust Deed

A trust deed is a legal document that sets out the terms and conditions of a trust in Singapore. It is a crucial document that defines the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved in the trust, including:

  • Settlor: The person who creates the trust and transfers assets to it.

  • Trustee: The person or entity responsible for managing the trust assets and carrying out the settlor's wishes as outlined in the deed.

  • Beneficiaries: The individuals or entities who will benefit from the trust assets.

A well-drafted trust deed can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Asset protection: Trusts can help to protect assets from creditors, bankruptcy, and other claims.

  • Tax planning: Trusts can be used to minimize tax liabilities.

  • Estate planning: Trusts can be used to distribute assets to beneficiaries in a way that avoids probate and minimizes estate taxes.

  • Privacy: Trusts can be used to keep assets and financial information private.

Here are some of the key things that should be included in a trust deed:

  • The name of the trust

  • The names of the settlor, trustee, and beneficiaries

  • A description of the trust assets

  • The powers and duties of the trustee

  • The rights of the beneficiaries

  • The circumstances under which the trust can be terminated

The trust deed should be drafted in clear and concise language, and it should be unambiguous. It is also important to ensure that the trust deed is properly executed and witnessed.

Once the trust deed has been executed, the trustee is responsible for managing the trust assets in accordance with the terms of the deed. The trustee must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries and must keep proper records of the trust's activities.

What are the requirements for a trust in Singapore?

Setting up a trust in Singapore involves certain essential requirements you need to fulfill. Here's a breakdown of the key elements:

Settlor Capacity:

  • Mental and legal capacity: The settlor, the person creating the trust, must have the mental and legal capacity to understand the nature and consequences of establishing a trust. This ensures sound decision-making and protects everyone involved.

Trust Formation:

  • Certainty of intention: The deed must clearly express the settlor's intention to create a trust and not simply manage the assets for themselves. Ambiguity can lead to future legal disputes.

  • Clarity of object and purpose: The purpose of the trust and the intended beneficiaries must be explicitly stated. This defines how the trustee acts and ensures adherence to the settlor's wishes.

  • Specific assets: The assets transferred to the trust (trust property) must be clearly identified and legally transferred to the trustee's ownership. This separates them from the settlor's personal assets.

  • Compliance with laws: The trust deed and its operations must comply with Singapore's trust laws and regulations, ensuring legal validity and avoiding legal issues.

Additional Requirements:

  • Formal registration: Unlike some jurisdictions, Singapore trusts generally don't require formal registration, simplifying the process. However, specific trust types might have different requirements.

  • Trustee appointment: A capable and trustworthy individual or entity (the trustee) needs to be appointed to manage the trust property and fulfill the settlor's intentions.

  • Trust deed: A well-drafted trust deed is crucial, outlining the rights and responsibilities of all parties, the powers of the trustee, and the terms of asset distribution. Seeking legal advice for drafting is recommended.

Tax Considerations:

  • While Singapore offers advantages like no estate duty or inheritance tax, specific tax implications might apply depending on the trust type, income sources, and beneficiary locations.

Remember, these are general requirements, and specific situations might necessitate additional considerations. 

What is the stamp duty for trusts in Singapore?

Stamp duty for trusts in Singapore can be a complex topic, as it depends on the type of trust and the nature of the transaction involving the trust. Here's a breakdown of the main points to consider:

General Stamp Duty on Trust Documents:

  • Fixed duty of $10: Generally applies to declarations of trust where the beneficial ownership of the asset remains unchanged. This serves as a basic administrative fee.

  • Ad valorem duty: Applicable when the beneficial ownership of the asset changes hands through the trust. The duty is calculated based on the market value of the transferred asset, with rates varying depending on the asset type and transaction specifics.

Specific Duties for Different Trusts:

  • Residential Property Trusts:

  • Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD): Applies when residential property is transferred to a trust. The rate currently ranges from 1% to 6%, depending on factors like the property value and citizenship status of the beneficiaries.

  • Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD): An additional 35% duty applies specifically to transfers of residential property into living trusts established after May 8, 2022.

  • Shares in Property-holding Entities:

  • Additional Conveyance Duty (ACD): A 65% duty applies on acquisitions of equity interests in property-holding entities (PHEs) transferred into a trust on or after April 27, 2023. This effectively discourages using trusts to circumvent property cooling measures.

Exemptions and Reliefs:

  • Certain types of trusts, like charitable trusts or trusts for disabled beneficiaries, may be eligible for exemptions or reduced stamp duty rates.

Always seek appropriate counsel to ensure you fully understand and comply with the relevant regulations when dealing with trusts and stamp duty in Singapore.

Trusts can be a complex legal matter, so it is important to seek professional advice if you are considering creating a trust in Singapore. They can help you to draft a trust deed that meets your specific needs and objectives.

Consulting a tax professional for clarity is advisable. It's always best to consult with a tax professional specializing in trust law to determine the specific stamp duty implications for your particular situation.

Contact Bestar today!

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