How to Set Up a Family Trust in Australia

Establishing a family trust in Australia can serve as an excellent method for managing and safeguarding your family’s fortune, ensuring financial stability for future generations. This article will enable you to understand how to set up a family trust and ensure that you comprehend each step.

Understanding Family Trusts

What is a Family Trust?

Discretionary trusts, which are also known as family trusts, are legal structures in which a single individual, the trustee, administers and holds assets on behalf of others, the beneficiaries. In Australia, these trusts are frequently implemented to mitigate family tax obligations and protect assets.

Benefits of a Family Trust

Before beginning the establishment process, it is critical to understand the many benefits of a family trust:

  • Asset Protection: It protects family assets from creditors, bankruptcy, and litigation.
  • Tax Efficiency: By dividing income among family members, you may be able to reduce the total tax burden, as beneficiaries pay taxes at their own rates.
  • Estate Planning: Planning an estate ensures the smooth transfer of wealth to future generations.
  • Privacy: After probate, wills become public, but trust information stays private.

Steps to Set Up a Family Trust

1. Define the trust’s objective

Enumerate the primary objectives of your family trust. Frequently shared objectives include asset management for future generations, financing children’s education, and preserving family wealth. A concise declaration of the trust’s objectives will guide its administration and organisation.

2. Choose a Trustee

Select a trustee to supervise the trust’s assets and establish disbursements. Professional trustee businesses, trusted acquaintances, or family members may all serve as trustees. It is imperative to select an individual who is competent, honest, and reliable in managing financial matters.

The trustee may be a corporation or one or more individuals. Each alternative has its advantages and disadvantages.

Individual Trustee: Typically less complex and less expensive; however, there are risks associated with the trustee’s death.

Corporate Trustee: Provides continuity and limited liability, though it involves more complexity and cost..

3. Selecting the Beneficiaries

List the beneficiaries of the trust. The recipients may include members of the immediate family, the extended family, or even philanthropic organizations. It is imperative to specify whether beneficiaries will receive equal portions or if distributions will vary in accordance with specific criteria.

4. Draft the Trust Deed

The trust deed is a legal document that specifies the trust’s laws and conditions. The following should be included:

  • Name of the trust
  • Objectives of trust
  • The trustee and their powers
  • The beneficiaries
  • Distribution guidelines
  • Asset management guidelines for trustees

It is imperative to consult with a lawyer to ensure that the trust deed is in accordance with Australian law and effectively communicates your objectives.

5. Settle the Trust

A settlor, an individual unrelated to the beneficiaries, must formally establish the trust by providing the trustee with a small amount of money, typically $10. This settlement establishes the trust. The settlor’s role in the trust is strictly formal; they are not further involved.

6. Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) and Tax File Number (TFN)

To obtain an ABN and TFN, register the family trust with the ATO in order to obtain an ABN and TFN. This is necessary for both regulatory compliance and tax reporting purposes.

7. Establishing a Trust Bank Account

Establish an independent bank account in the name of the trust to manage its funds. Beneficiaries will receive payments from this account; costs will be paid, and income will be deposited.

8. Transfer property to the trust

Assign the trust’s title to assets such as cash, equities, and real estate. To mitigate any potential tax liabilities, it is advisable to seek the advice of a professional in order to mitigate any potential tax liabilities, as certain asset transactions may have tax implications.

9. Maintain Accurate Records

The trustee is required to maintain meticulous records of all trust transactions, including income, expenditures, and distributions. Maintaining accurate records is critical for tax reporting and transparency.

10. Regularly Review the Trust

Conduct frequent evaluations of the trust’s operations and implement any required modifications. This may involve modifications to the trust deed, the trustees, or the beneficiary payments. We conduct assessments frequently to ensure the trust continues to adhere to the law and achieve its objectives.

Tax Considerations for Family Trusts

Family trusts can offer significant tax benefits, but they also come with specific tax obligations. Key tax considerations include:

Income Splitting: The total tax burden may be reduced by dividing income among beneficiaries, as it is taxed at the marginal rates of the beneficiaries.

Capital Gains Tax (CGT): Trusts may use the CGT reduction to potentially lower the amount of capital gains tax owed.

Franking Credits: Trusts may transfer franchising credits from dividends to beneficiaries, potentially reducing their tax obligations.

It’s crucial to work with a tax professional to ensure compliance with ATO regulations and optimise the trust’s tax position.

Legal and Financial Advice

The establishment and administration of a family trust necessitate complex legal and financial decisions. It is recommended that you consult with financial consultants, accountants, and attorneys who specialise in trust law. They can ensure that you adhere to the law, offer specialised guidance, and help you make informed decisions.


The formation of a family trust in Australia offers a variety of benefits, including asset protection, tax efficiency, and efficient estate planning. You can establish a family trust that protects your family’s financial security and preserves money for future generations by following the steps outlined in this article and seeking the advice of a specialist.

Remember, a properly established family trust is a highly effective tool, but its full potential requires meticulous preparation and ongoing monitoring.