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Can physical assets go into a trust?

When most people think about the assets in a trust, they consider monetary assets. Trusts can be used to pass money down to heirs while still retaining some control over that money. For instance, the trustee who administers the account could be instructed to pay out a specific annual amount over a course of 10 or 20 years, rather than just leaving the lump sum to the heir all at once.

But what about physical, tangible items? Can they also go in the trust?

They can. Some items that people consider putting into their trusts include:

  • Jewelry
  • Books
  • Computers
  • Clothing
  • Personal papers
  • Furniture
  • Collectibles
  • Antiques
  • Artwork
  • Other home furnishings
  • Cars and trucks
  • Airplanes
  • Scooters and motorcycles
  • Boats
  • Pets
  • Firearms
  • Tools
  • Cattle and horses
  • Photographs
  • Business interests and stock in corporations

These are just a few examples, but they show that there is almost no limit to what can go into a trust. You can use it to pass on all of your assets, not just your cash.

Why would you want to do this? In some cases, it is all about taxes. People simply try to reduce the taxable value of the estate by moving items into a trust. This lowers the value of the assets that they actually control by giving that control to the trust, which then passes those items on to their heirs or to charities with the help of the trustee.

If you are setting up a trust or expecting to get distributions from a trustee, make sure you understand exactly how the legal process works.

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