What is a Grantor vs Non-Grantor Trust?

What is a Grantor vs Non-Grantor Trust?

One of the many factors to consider when setting up a trust is whether to make it a grantor trust or a non-grantor trust. While a grantor trust is more common, a non-grantor trust can be useful in certain circumstances.

A Grantor Trust

A grantor trust is any trust in which the person setting up the trust (the “grantor”) retains some control over the trust. This could mean the grantor has the power to revoke the trust, change trust beneficiaries, change trust assets, or distribute income from the trust to the grantor or the grantor’s spouse, among other things. Including any provision that gives the grantor power over the trust will make a trust a grantor trust. Most trusts set up for estate planning purposes fall into this category.

A Non-Grantor Trust

A non-grantor trust is a trust that is not a grantor trust, meaning the person who set up the trust has no rights, interests, or powers over trust assets.

Tax Differences

The main difference between grantor and non-grantor trusts is how they are taxed. With a grantor trust, the grantor is responsible for paying tax on any income generated by the trust. Grantor trusts are often set up with the grantor’s Social Security number, so the income is reported directly on the grantor’s tax return.

A non-grantor trust is taxed as a separate entity, so the trustee is responsible for filing a tax return for the trust. If the trust pays income to a beneficiary, the income is included in the beneficiary’s taxable earnings.

Non-Grantor Trust Tax Benefits

The structure of the non-grantor trust has tax benefits in some circumstances and it may be useful in the following situations:

(1) You do not want to be involved with the trust at all. This could be preferable when setting up a trust for an ex-spouse following a divorce.

(2) Your tax bracket is higher than the beneficiaries of the trust. Because they are in a lower tax bracket than you, a non-grantor trust allows them to pay less in income tax than the grantor would have.

(3) You own a small business. Putting a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or similar business in a non-grantor trust could allow the business to obtain a 20 percent qualified business income deduction. The deduction is phased out for higher incomes, so separating the business into one or more non-grantor trusts may allow the business to get the deduction.

(4) You own expensive real estate. Putting high value real estate in a non-grantor trust could allow the trust to get a state and local tax (SALT) deduction. The SALT deduction is capped at $10,000, so if the property is included in your taxable estate, you can get only one deduction, but if it is placed in one or more non-grantor trusts, each trust will qualify for a separate deduction.

Non-Grantor Trust Considerations

Non-grantor trusts also have their downsides. They are much more expensive to set up and maintain than a grantor trust. In addition, the grantor loses all control of the assets in the trust. Taxes are also steeper for a non-grantor trust.

Next Steps

To read more about trusts, visit Trust Types Explained.

To find out if a non-grantor or grantor trust is right for you, contact contact an experienced estate and elder planning attorney at Baker Law Group, P.C. Our attorneys have considerable corporate, financial, estate planning, and elder law experience and can identify tax and asset protection strategies that work best for you.

To schedule a consultation:

Complete Online Form or

781-996-5656 phone or

mailto:info@MBakerLaw.com email

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