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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Legal background to trusts & estates: wills & estates - when a will trust commences


When a will trust commences depends on the circumstances.

A will may direct that a specific legacy, instead of going directly to an individual, beheld on trust. In this case the trust will be treated as having commenced with effect from the date of death of the deceased person.

A will trust may commence at a later date either during or at the end of the administration period. Once the administration of an estate is complete and the personal representatives’ administrative functions are over, what is left of the deceased’s property after all debts, taxes and legacies have been paid may not necessarily pass directly to the ultimate beneficiaries. Instead, the residue of the estate may pass into a trust or settlement. In these circumstances, it is up to the personal representatives to determine whether or not they need to wait until the administration of the estate is complete before they transfer some of the assets comprised in the residue of the estate over to the trustees. The trust will commence when assets are transferred to the trustees or when the administration has been completed, whichever event happens first.