SIMPLE TRUST: Definitive Guide

simple trust

A trust is an effective estate planning instrument. It is used to keep assets out of probate and generally ensure that they are handled on behalf of the beneficiaries in accordance with the desires of the trustor. There are different types of trusts. In this article, however, we’ll dwell more on the simple trust and a little on the complex trust. So basically, we’ll be treating everything about a simple trust, including the taxation and the simple vs complex trust.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is a legal body that can be established under the laws of your state to manage your assets. The person who establishes a trust is known as the grantor, and they have the authority to transfer assets into the trust. They may also appoint one or more trustees to oversee the trust and manage its assets.

The trustee’s responsibility is to manage assets on behalf of one or more trust beneficiaries in accordance with the grantor’s stipulations. For example, you may create a trust to hold assets that you wish transferred to your three children when you die. Alternatively, you might choose your favorite charitable organization as a beneficiary of your trust.

There are many distinct types of trusts, and they can be classified in several ways. A revocable trust, for example, can be amended throughout the grantor’s lifetime. If you have this type of trust and want to add assets to it or modify the beneficiaries while you are still alive, you can do so. In contrast, an irrevocable trust entails the permanent transfer of assets.

Trusts can also be classified as grantor or non-grantor. The trust creator retains some powers over the trust in a grantor trust, including rights to the trust’s assets and income. When the trust creator dies, the trust assets may be included in their estate. The trust creator has no interest in or control over trust assets in a non-grantor trust. Trust assets are often excluded from the inheritance of the trust creator upon their death.

What is a Simple Trust?

A simple trust, sometimes known as a bare trust, is one in which the appointed trustee is not required to do anything other than guarantee that the trust property is delivered to the named beneficiary within the time frame stipulated by the trust.

A simple trust is defined by three key characteristics:

  • The trust must annually distribute any profit earned on trust assets to the beneficiaries.
  • It is unable to distribute its principle.
  • The trust cannot make charitable contributions.

The income from the trust is taxable to the beneficiaries when this type of trust is employed, even if the revenue is not withdrawn from the trust. Capital gains taxes are levied against the Trust.


Depending on the form of fund, trust funds are taxed differently. A simple trust is one that distributes all of its income; otherwise, the trust is termed complex. A tax deduction is taken for income dispersed to all beneficiaries. In this instance, the beneficiary must pay income tax on the taxable amount rather than the trust.

The sum disbursed to the beneficiary is thought to be derived first from current-year earnings and then from the cumulative principal. This is usually the original donation plus any later contributions, and it is income that exceeds the amount distributed.

The obligation for capital gains from this sum may be taxed to either the trust or the beneficiary. All amounts given to the beneficiary for his or her own benefit are taxable to the beneficiary to the extent of the trust’s distribution deduction.

Simple Trust Taxation

A simple trust is one that is designed to distribute all of its revenue and does not pay or set aside any charity donations. Otherwise, trust is a complicated thing. According to most state laws and trust arrangements, capital gains are distributed to the corpus.

Only a portion of the profits and deductions are transferred to the beneficiaries under trust legislation. The trust will frequently contain some income, notably capital gains, which will be transferred to the trust corpus. However, trust distributions contain both taxable and non-taxable components.

The tax-free portion of the distribution could come from tax-exempt income, such as tax-exempt interest on municipal bonds, or it could come from the trust’s retained earnings on which it has already paid taxes in previous years, or it could come from trust principal, which is usually non-taxable due to the recovery of capital doctrine.

In Other Words,

The capital assigned is the money or property put in the trust, and any dividends of allocated capital are simply dividends of the initial investment, and thus not taxable.

Taxes on taxable income are typically paid by either the trust or the beneficiaries, but not both. If the trust holds profits until the end of the year, the trust must pay taxes on those profits.

If the money is dispersed, the beneficiaries must pay taxes on it, and the trust may deduct it. In addition, if the trust accounting income includes both tax-free and taxable income, the tax-free and taxable portions of the income distribution must be assigned to each beneficiary.

The taxable element of the distributions will be excluded, but not the tax-free portion of the income or any expenditures that must be allocated to the tax-free portion. To calculate this figure, an intermediary result known as the distributable net profit must first be determined.

The Advantages of a Simple Trust

  • You will name the trust’s ultimate beneficiaries, who will receive the trust’s assets after your death.
  • When you die, the Simple Trust is terminated
  • You can specify the age at which each ultimate recipient is entitled to collect his or her distribution.
  • You have the option of selecting the financial institution or investment firm where the assets will be invested.
  • The Simple Trust is inexpensive, easy to use, and dependable.
  • You are the final say on the “Investment Decision-Maker,” which is your trusted advisor.
  • You will ask your trust for interest-free loans, and the Trustee will be provided a guarantee of trust assets.
  • Your trust can never be amended or revoked by the Settlor’s representative.
  • You can amend the trust agreement at any time, including adding or removing beneficiaries or canceling it.

Principles Of A Simple Trust 

  • A simple trust is a taxable entity.
  • Every beneficiary is usually required to pay tax on the income received from the trust.
  • Because trusts are not subject to a double taxation scheme, all taxable income paid to the beneficiaries is exempt from the trust.
  • The money delivered to the beneficiaries preserves its nature, thus if the trust distributes long-term capital gains to the beneficiaries, they will report it as such on their tax returns.
  • The income earned by the trust is generally taxed, but the principal is not. As a result, if the trust distributes both principal and income, the trust shall allocate every principal and income to each beneficiary.

How To Register A Simple Trust

The registration process comprises a short trust agreement that defines the rights and duties of the trustee and the settlor, as well as the beneficiaries.

  • A simple trust deed must be written on stamp paper worth the specified amount.
  • The name of the trust, trust address, trust character (charitable or religious), settlor name, and two trustees of the trust, as well as the property type, i.e., moveable or immovable property, must all be disclosed in the basic trust deed.
  • Private trusts that desire to be registered under the Indian Trusts Act of 1882 must submit the following information to the Local Registrar: trust Deed executed on required stamp paper, one passport-sized photo and a copy of the settlor’s identity proof, the ID proofs of the two trustees, and the ID proofs of the two witnesses individually.
  • The settlor’s signature is required in all suitable locations throughout the Trust Deed.
  • To sign the Trust Deed, two witnesses must be present.
  • The basic Trust Deed should now be presented to the Local Registrar for registration, along with one Xerox copy. The settlor’s signature must also appear on all pages of the photocopy.
  • Both the settlor and the two witnesses must be physically present during the registration process, together with their original ID evidence.
  • Finally, the Registrar will keep the photocopy of the trust deed and return the original registered copy to the parties involved.
  • Documentation is required.
  • The original copy of the trust deed as proof of the Trust’s formation.
  • Certified authentic copies of the institute’s registration certificate Details of all trustees of the trust, including address and PAN
  • Income tax registration certificate photocopy
  • Audit report for the previous three years’ balance sheet and income and expenditure.

Simple Trust vs Complex Trust

What is a Complex Trust?

A complex trust is just the opposite of the simple trust. A trust must do one of the following each year in order to be considered complex:

  • Do not distribute all of its income to trust beneficiaries.
  • Distribute some or all of the trust’s major assets to beneficiaries.
  • Contribute to charity organizations

There are certain additional rules to keep in mind when dealing with complex trusts. First, no principal can be distributed until all income for the year has been dispersed. Ordinary income is dispersed first, followed by dividends, and dividends must be delivered before capital gains. The primary can be allocated after those conditions are met. Furthermore, all distributions must be equitable for all trust beneficiaries who receive them.

Complex Trust Taxation

Any trust that does not match the criteria for being classified as a simple trust is classified as a complex trust. When calculating taxable income for the year, complex trusts might take deductions. This deduction is equivalent to the amount of income that the trust must distribute for the year. A complex trust is also eligible for a yearly $100 exemption.

Which Is Better: Simple or Complex Trust?

When it comes to basic and sophisticated trusts, one isn’t always superior to the other. The form of trust that works best for you ultimately depends on what you need the trust to do for you.

A simple trust has the advantage of being very uncomplicated in terms of how assets and income can be dispersed and taxed. A complex trust, on the other hand, may provide additional estate planning flexibility if you have a large estate or multiple beneficiaries.

Consider if you want to keep control or an interest in the assets given to the trust when considering trust options. You will no longer have an interest in the trust assets if you pick a basic or sophisticated trust. Speaking with an estate planning attorney or trust professional can assist you in determining which sort of trust is ideal for your financial position.

In Conclusion,

The primary distinction between a basic and complex trust is in how income and assets are allocated and taxed. The amount of your inheritance, the type of assets you want to incorporate, and your intentions for asset management can all influence whether you should establish a simple or complex trust. Before establishing either sort of trust, it is critical to understand the tax requirements. Also, ensure that you understand how the trust fits into your overall estate strategy. A financial advisor can assist you in making the most educated decision possible on estate planning, including whether to establish a trust.

Frequently Asked Questions

What applies to a simple trust?

A simple trust must disperse all of its income right away. In general, it cannot accumulate income, disburse funds from its corpus, or make charitable contributions.

Is a grantor trust a simple trust?

A grantor trust is not a simple trust as it does not need to file separate income tax returns.

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