Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

About silent trusts

New York residents who are trustees of irrevocable trusts have certain duties regarding informing beneficiaries about the trust. Specifically, they have an affirmative duty to give some information about the trust to beneficiaries. In turn, beneficiaries are given the right to ask for certain information about the trust.

The rights of the beneficiaries and the responsibilities of the trustees are meant to make sure that the beneficiaries have the information they need to adequately protect their interests. The trust settler may be able to use the trust instrument to restrict or put aside the requirement in some states. In other jurisdictions, due to public policy, the requirement cannot be waived.

In one type of irrevocable trust, a silent trust, the trustee's duties to advise beneficiaries that the trust exists or to give beneficiaries other information about the trust have been completely waived or have been severely limited. The trustee may be instructed by the provisions of the trust to not give any information to beneficiaries regarding the existence of the trust, details regarding the trust's administration or terms of the trust.

The trust instrument is used to identify the beneficiaries of a trust, including a silent trust. The beneficiaries will be identified by their class description or by name. For silent trusts, the amount of information about the trust that is provided to one or more of the beneficiaries will vary depending on what is dictated in the trust instrument and the laws of the jurisdiction in which the trust is being administered.

An estate planning attorney may advise clients about how certain types of trusts, such as silent trusts, might be used to protect assets for future generations. Assistance may be provided for drafting the provisions of trust to ensure that a client's wishes are enforced.

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