Why your trust does not “exist”: best practices in granting language

Before getting to the real reason for this post, let us be clear that your trust does not exist.

By that I mean simply that your trust is not a legally distinct entity like an LLC or a limited partnership is an entity. Your trust is a relationship and your trustee holds property “in trust” (rather than “in a trust”). The trust relationship is in fact governed and defined (in that sense of “existence”) by the trust agreement, statute, and centuries of case law.

As a body, the Nevada Revised Statutes are clear that the trust relationship is embodied in a trustee. The exceptions that prove the rule, such as registered “business trusts” under NRS 88A—which treats this special type of formally-registered trust arrangement almost as if it were an entity because of its registration—emphasize that the focus of trust relationships must always be on the legally-recognizable persons such as the trustee, the trusters, and the beneficiaries.

This explains why the technicalities of granting language matter: legally-recognizable transfers are made between legally-recognizable persons. Which brings us to:

Best Practices

Granting language is correct when it recognizes who the legal grantee is. Thus:

 . . . to John Galt and his successors, as Trustees of the Taggart Family Trust, under agreement dated June 3, 1927.

Then when the trustee is the grantor, the mention of future trustees becomes superfluous:

John Galt, Trustee of the Taggart Family Trust, under agreement dated June 3, 1927, grants to . . .

Future trustees are now omitted because, when the current trustee is empowered to transfer property, then that trustee acts without any hypothetical future action of successor trustees.

Note also that the trust agreement date is used in documents as well as in all but the least formal discussions. Except for certain special trusts such as NRS 88A business trusts alluded to above, there are no required filings or registrations of trusts—there may be hundreds of similarly-named trusts and no one obtains a right to preclude others from using the same name. This means that minimum specification of the date of the trust agreement and the trustee becomes fundamental to carrying out the intent of the instrument.