A testamentary trust is a trust created under an individual’s last will and testament. Often, a testamentary trust is only triggered if a specific set of conditions exist upon the creator’s death. For example, if someone passes away when his or her children are in their 40s, an outright distribution of property to those children might be most appropriate. However, if the creator passes away while his or her children are teenagers, college students, or young adults, an outright distribution of property may be difficult to manage or could provide someone with a disincentive to go to school or start a career.
Testamentary trusts are also used when a beneficiary may be receiving governmental benefits, such as MassHealth. In this case, the goal is to not disqualify the beneficiary from a program that has an asset limit for eligibility.
Prior to certain statutory changes in Massachusetts testamentary trusts were disfavored because of the ongoing oversight and filing obligations with the probate court. The Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code and Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code have relaxed these administrative burdens making testamentary trusts a more attractive planning tool.