Family Trusts and Wills are of course crucial parts of Succession Planning, both alone and in acting together.

It is essential to consider the various connections that your trust has to your Will.

While the assets in the trust will not, prima facie, be included in your personal estate for distribution in accordance with the terms of your Will, that is only part of the story. Many connections between the Will and the trust do exist most importantly in terms of the mechanisms under the trust deed by which control of the trust is passed and the impact that beneficiary loan accounts can have in shifting wealth from the trust to the deceased estate. The estate may have an interest in the trust (such as units in a unit trust owned by the deceased).

Even though the trust fund is not part of the estate it is often necessary to review the trust deed. A trust deed commonly appoints someone with the power to remove and appoint new trustees and if the power was held by the deceased, that power often passes to the executor of the deceased.

If the deceased was a beneficiary of a discretionary trust (commonly called a family trust), and a Trustee has determined to make distribution to beneficiaries but has not done so then monies may be owed by the trustee to the deceased and that loan will form part of the estate assets. Otherwise, the corpus of the trust will be increased for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

These matters show the important of consultation with a solicitor when considering Succession Planning for yourself and your family.