What is Trust Accounting? Overview, and How it Works

what-is-trust-accounting
what-is-trust-accounting

Over the years, people have been trying to understand the concept of Trust Accounting and it still hasn’t been so clear.

This is why in this article we would explain what trust accounting really means in detail and its application to your business and finances.

What is Trust Accounting?

According to mcampbell, Trust Accounting is a detailed record that includes information about all income and expenses of a trust.

Trust accounting refers to the separation of trust spending into different categories. The division of expenses will aid in determining the right tax and accounting treatment.

Now you might be wondering, what exactly is a Trust? A trust is a legal document that appoints a trustee to handle a grantor’s assets while he or she is incompetent or deceased. Even while the grantor is still alive, he might still feel the need to allow the trustee to manage the trust.

In trust accounting, there is certain information that should be included and they involve details concerning the following:

  • Trustee compensation and reimbursement for his or her expenses
  • Expenses and fees paid to the trustee’s advisors, such as attorneys, CPAs, and financial advisors
  • Gains and losses on trust assets, as well as taxes paid and disbursements made to trust beneficiaries

When planning to prepare an accurate trust accounting, it is advisable to keep intact an inventory of trust property and also copies of all account statements, invoices, and receipts.

To properly track costs and investments, trustees should keep documents structured and use financial planning software.

A trust accounting is normally required once a year. A final accounting may be necessary once the trust has been resolved.

READ MORE: WORKING CAPITAL: Definition & Tips For Effective Management

Types of Trust Accounting

There are several types of trust account available and they vary depending on the type of account in use, the terms agreement of any trust, and the laws of state and federal that are related.

The following are the various types of trust accounting we have:

#1. Uniform Gifts to Minor Act (UGMA)

The Uniform Gifts to Minor Act(UGMA) is one of the various types of Trust Accounting. Minors can legally hold the assets housed in these accounts thanks to this form of a trust account.

They won’t be able to access the account’s capital or earnings until they reach legal age. This form of a trust account is commonly used by parents to pay their children’s higher education expenses while also providing tax benefits.

The UGMA accounts are only allowed to be managed by a custodian who was appointed by the donor

#2. Payable on Death (POD)

This is another important type of trust Accounting, which is also known as Totten Trust. These accounts are just like every other bank accounts but with designated beneficiaries who can lawfully acquire possession of the trust’s assets and income following the death of the account holder.

POD trusts, like ordinary bank accounts, are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Furthermore, assets in this sort of account do not need to pass through probate before being transferred to the rightful beneficiary upon the death of the original owner.

However, there are circumstances that preclude the named beneficiary from receiving the full value of the account upon the account owner’s death.

READ MORE: Best Business Checking Accounts For Small Business Startup & Realities

#3. Escrow (Housing) Trust Accounting

 This is another type of trust accounting also known as the Housing trust account. This type of account is frequently opened by a mortgage lender.

This account is used by the lender to pay property taxes and insurance on behalf of the homeowner. The funds to be deposited into this type of trust account are usually included in the monthly mortgage payment.

There are two main types of Escrow Trust Accounting and they include Purchase Escrow account and refinance escrow account.

An escrow agent manages a Purchase Escrow account, which retains funds associated with the purchase of a home.

While a refinance escrow account, just like a purchase escrow account, keeps fees associated with the transaction, in this case, a home refinance. Appraisal and attorney fees are examples of such costs.

Benefits of a Trust account

Trust accounting has several benefits which it offers and they include the following:

#1. Trust is a great way to skip the Probate process

While assets held in your will must go through probate to be validated and distributed according to your intentions, trust assets normally do not.

A will becomes a public record, however, a trust arrangement remains confidential. When you create a trust during your lifetime, you just have to deal with your attorney and trustee to put the agreement into effect.

#2. Tax advantages may be available through trusts

Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, which means they can be changed after they’ve been established — or not.

A revocable trust allows you to make modifications after you sign it, but depending on its provisions, it may or may not result in tax benefits on the road.

An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, is one that you can’t normally amend once it’s been signed. With an irrevocable trust, you may be able to take advantage of transfer tax benefits because you’ve moved assets out of your estate.

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#3. Trusts put out particular guidelines on how your assets should be used

If you form a trust through your will or a separate trust agreement during your lifetime, it will allow you to truly tailor your estate strategy.

You can specify limitations like age requirements or restrictions on how the assets will be utilized. For example, you could specify that the money in a trust be delivered to your grandkids only when they reach the age of 18 and that it only be used for college tuition.

If a beneficiary needs special help managing money, you could set a limit on how much money they can receive from the trust each year. Revocable trusts might be beneficial not just in the event of death, but also in the event of illness or handicap:

Wills take effect only when a person dies, but a revocable trust put up during your life might benefit your family if you become ill or unable to handle your assets.

If this occurs, your trustee can issue distributions, pay expenses, and even file tax returns on your behalf. You can appoint someone to administer the assets (via the trust) ahead of time.

#4. Trusts provide flexibility

If you create a revocable trust, you can change the terms of the trust agreement at any time by signing a document modification.

This enables you to be adaptable and flexible in the face of shifting circumstances in life. Perhaps you will become active in a philanthropic cause that you are enthusiastic about in the future.

Perhaps you have a new grandchild and want to include him or her in the trust. If that’s the case, you can add them to your trust as future beneficiaries at that time.

READ MORE: Cash flow management: Best ways to manage your cash flow effectively

Example of a Trust Account

Now let’s take some examples on Trust Accounting. For instance, let’s say Mr. and Mrs. Adams are university lecturers with the intention of retiring some 20 to 25 years later from the lecturing profession.

They were able to raise 5 kids, including 3 infant grandkids. They had plans of securing their assets and raise college funds for their grandkids, so they decided to own and explore a trust accounting as the possible option.

So they decided to meet an attorney which is supposed to guild them on the right path to take. They finally made the decision to protect their assets in a revocable trust account. They act as co-trustees, with their eldest child acting as a successor trustee.

The trust will manage their assets, which include real estate, stocks, and other investments. All assets will be dispersed equally among their children, who have been specified as beneficiaries, upon their death.

They also set up education trust accounts for each grandkid, putting $10,000 into each one at the start. Their plan is to invest $5,000 per account each year until the grandchildren turn 18.

Only educational reasons are allowed to use the funding. If the grandchild does not attend college or trade school, the cash will be distributed in monthly payments commencing when the grandchild reaches the age of 25.    

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Rules of Trust Accounting

There are rules outlining the dos and don’ts of a trust account. These rules are useful in conversion boosters. Let’s look at the following rules guiding trust accounting.

  1. There should be no comingling or mixing of funds.
  2. Keep a separate ledger.
  3. Check your trust accounts on a regular basis.
  4. Don’t touch it unless you’ve earned it.
  5. Don’t rob Peter to pay Paul
  6. Create a system of checks and balances
  7. Follow the rules set forth by the state bar and the government.
  8. There is no interest to be collected.

READ MORE: Double Entry Bookkeeping: Simplified With UK Practices and Examples

Bottom Line

This article explains what the principle of trust accounting is, as well as its benefits and guidelines.

If you have any questions or suggestions, kindly let me know in the comments section.

All the best!

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  1. Ich möchte ein Treuhandkonto eröffnen. Gut zu wissen, dass man diese auch als Totten Trust bezeichnet. Am besten frage ich auch mal den Bestatter.

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