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New Jersey Living Trust Form (Revocable)

New Jersey Living Trust Form (Revocable)

Updated May 09, 2024

A New Jersey living trust is a legal instrument primarily used to avoid probate when an estate is divided. The creator of the trust (the “grantor”) transfers the designated property to a trustee to be managed during their lifetime and distributed to their beneficiaries upon the grantor’s death. Notably, with a living trust, the grantor may act as their own trustee.

Requirements (5)

  1. Competent: The grantor must have the capacity to establish a trust.
  2. Intent: The grantor must indicate their intention to create a trust.
  3. Trustee’s Duties: There must be duties for the trustee to perform.
  4. Sole Trustee Cannot be the Sole Beneficiary: The sole trustee and the sole beneficiary of the trust cannot be the same individual.
  5. Definite Beneficiary: Unless it is a charitable trust or a trust established for the care of an animal, the trust must have a beneficiary who can be identified now or in the future.[1]

Laws

Amending/Revoking – The grantor may amend or revoke the trust unless the terms of the trust explicitly state that it is irrevocable or there is clear and convincing evidence that the grantor intended the trust to be irrevocable.[2]

Bond Requirement – If it is required under the terms of the trust, or if it has been found necessary by the court to protect the interests of the beneficiaries, the trustee must put forward a bond to secure the performance of their duties.[3]

Certification of Trust – To establish the existence of the trust to a person other than a beneficiary, the trustee may furnish a certification of trust that states the date of the trust, the identities of the grantor and trustee, and whether the trust is revocable.[4]

Co-Trustees – Co-trustees may act by majority decision if they are unable to reach a unanimous decision.[5]

Contesting a Trust – A person must begin an action to contest a trust within four months of receiving notice of the trust’s existence, or six months if they are a nonresident, or within three years of the grantor’s death, whichever is earlier.[6]

Costs Related to the Trust – The trustee can only incur costs that are reasonable and appropriate in administering the trust.[7]

Jurisdiction – A written trust created in another state is valid in New Jersey if it was created in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where the trust instrument was executed.[8]

Oral Trusts – Trusts must be executed in writing in order to be valid.[9] New Jersey state law does not recognize oral trusts.

Pet Trusts – A trust may be created to care for one or more animals alive during the grantor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the last surviving animal.[10]

Signing Requirements – New Jersey state law does not require a living trust to be signed.

Spendthrift Provision – A spendthrift provision that restrains both the voluntary and involuntary transfer of a beneficiary’s interest is valid.[11]

Trustee’s Compensation – If the terms of the trust do not specify the trustee’s compensation, the trustee may take commissions on all corpus or income they receive in administering the trust.[12]

Trustee’s Duties – The trustee is required to prudently administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and the law, and in the interest of the beneficiaries.[13]

Trustee’s Powers – In addition to the powers conferred upon them by the trust instrument, the trustee is empowered to take appropriate steps to achieve the proper investment, management, and distribution of trust property.[14]

Sources

  1. § 3B:31-19(a)
  2. § 3B:31-43(a)
  3. § 3B:31-47(a)
  4. § 3B:31-81(a)
  5. § 3B:31-48(a)
  6. § 3B:31-45(a)
  7. § 3B:31-58
  8. § 3B:31-20
  9. § 3B:31-18
  10. § 3B:31-24(a)
  11. § 3B:31-36(a)
  12. § 3B:18-2
  13. § 3B:31-54
  14. § 3B:31-69