An inter vivos trust is a trust that is established by the founder(s) during his, her or their lifetime and is set up according to the specifications of the founder(s). Trustees are nominated by the founder(s) in the trust deed. They are responsible for administering the assets in accordance with the trust deed and the laws relating to trusts. Your beneficiaries listed in the trust deed will benefit from the trust assets. A founder and a trustee may also be nominated as beneficiaries.

In South Africa trusts are constantly under the scrutiny of authorities to ensure everything is above board. It is, therefore, important to make sure that your trust documentation is up to date and correct.

Letter of intent

This is a record of the wishes of the trust founder(s) and is useful as a guide for trustees when exercising discretionary powers.


Detailed records should be kept of all trustee decisions.

Loan account reconciliation

Any loan balances owed to the trust founder(s) or funder qualify as assets in the estate.

Acknowledgement of debt

Records must be kept of the terms of any loans to the trust.

Sale agreements

These records and detail any assets sold to the trust, as well as the purchase consideration.

Trust deed

It is important to ensure that this is flexible enough so that it can be changed or altered when requirements and legislation change.

Annual financial statements and tax returns

Copies must be kept of all annual financial statements and returns.

Article courtesy of Nedbank.

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