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Drafting Distribution Provisions in Trusts

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Distribution provisions are the most essential provisions of trust instruments – and risk lurks everywhere.

If a trustee has unbounded discretion, he or she risks a "general power of appointment," which would cause the trust's assets to be taxable to the holder of the power of appointment. But distribution standards – especially for "standard of living" or "emergencies" – are inherently susceptible to multiple interpretations and dispute, and potentially to litigation.

Ultimately, planning and drafting these provisions is an exercise in risk management and tradeoffs.

This program provides a real world guide to planning and drafting distribution provisions in trust instruments, including the tradeoffs and risks.

  • Risks of discretionary distributions – power of appointment, taxable inclusion, litigation
  • Cost/benefit of heavily detailed v. general distribution provisions
  • Ascertainable standards – health, education, maintenance, and support (HEMs)
  • Drafting sole and absolute discretion, emergencies, best interests, and standard of living
  • Role of fiduciary duties in making distribution decisions
  • Tax considerations when making distributions

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
1:00–2:00 PM


  • Daniel L. Daniels, Wiggin and Dana LLP, Greenwich, CT

January 16, 2024

North Carolina: 1.00 MCLE Hour

See pricing below.