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What Is a Marital Trust?

A trust is a means of transferring property—whether it is tangible or intangible— or funds from one party to another. There are different forms of a trust; one such form is a marital trust. A marital trust provides a means of supporting and transferring assets to a spouse in the event of the death of the other spouse. Thus, the surviving spouse becomes the beneficiary of a marital trust. However, it is possible that a marital trust also list other parties as its beneficiaries.


One form of a marital trust is an AB. This revocable living trust exists in 2 parts for the A trust, also referred to as a marital trust or QTIP trust, to encompass assets that are not subject to federal tax exemptions while the B trust, also known as the shelter trust or family trust, encompasses assets that are subject to federal tax exemption. Each spouse creates an AB trust so that in the event of the death of one spouse, the living spouse may have access to the estate and assets of the deceased. This trust provides the maximum amount of properties and assets to be passed under the terms of a trust without being subject to federal taxation. The surviving spouse does not have to pay for any taxes under the A or B trust. However, the beneficiaries of an A trust must pay taxes once the assets of the A trust is transferred to their ownership upon the death of the surviving spouse.

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