An Ohio resident who is creating an estate plan might want to consider setting up a silent trust. This tool differs from other types of trusts because the trustee does not have the usual duty to keep beneficiaries informed about the trust.

Usually, a silent trust is irrevocable. The trust creator either puts limitations on what can be shared or waives the trustee’s duty to share information with beneficiaries altogether. This might include not even informing the beneficiaries that the trust exists. The trust terms and local law will determine how much information is shared.

What information the trustee does not share can vary. For example, in some cases, the trust may require the trustee to share information only with beneficiaries but not contingent beneficiaries. The trust could prohibit the trustee from offering information and specify that beneficiaries will only get information requested. However, in other types of arrangements, the trustee could be prohibited from sharing information even at the request of the beneficiary. In other cases, some beneficiaries and not others might be allowed information, or there could be a surrogate who is allowed to get information on the beneficiary’s behalf. How long this nondisclosure lasts will vary. It may last for a certain period of time or until the beneficiary is a particular age.

Some people may think of trusts as simply vehicles for wealthy people to lower their tax bills; however, these estate planning tools can do many other things. Trusts can protect wealth for minor children, irresponsible relatives or loved ones who have special needs. They can be set up to make charitable donations and provide income for family members. An estate planning attorney can help a client decide which type of trust would be best for them.