How To Set Up A Trust For Your Child In Texas – A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to securing your child’s financial future, setting up a trust can be one of the most prudent decisions you make. In the state of Texas, trusts offer a flexible and effective way to manage and protect assets for the benefit of your children. This guide aims to walk you through the process of setting up a trust in Texas, from understanding the basics of trust law in the state to choosing the right type of trust, and managing it effectively. Whether you’re a new parent planning for your child’s future or looking to secure the financial well-being of your minors, this guide provides the insights and steps needed to establish a trust tailored to your family’s needs.

The Best Type of Trust for A Child Is…

HOW TO SET UP A TRUST FOR YOUR CHILD IN TEXASDetermining the “best” type of trust for a child largely depends on your specific goals, circumstances, and the needs of your child. Trusts are versatile tools in estate planning and can be tailored to fit various situations. Here are some common types of trusts used for children and their typical applications:

  1. Revocable Living Trust: This is a flexible option as you can change or revoke it during your lifetime. It allows you to manage the assets while you’re alive and specify how they should be handled after your death. It’s beneficial for providing for a child’s needs over time and can include provisions that dictate how and when the child receives the assets (e.g., at certain ages or milestones).
  2. Irrevocable Trust: Once established, this trust cannot be easily modified or revoked. It’s often used for tax planning purposes, as assets placed in an irrevocable trust are generally removed from your taxable estate. It can also provide asset protection from creditors. This type of trust is useful if your primary goal is to preserve assets for your child’s future, like funding education or providing long-term financial support.
  3. Testamentary Trust: This trust is created as part of your will and comes into effect after your death. It’s a good option if you want to maintain control over your assets during your lifetime and then provide for your children after your passing. Testamentary trusts can be tailored to suit the needs of your child and can include age-specific distributions or stipulations based on certain achievements or milestones.
  4. Special Needs Trust: If your child has special needs, this trust can provide for their care and expenses in a way that doesn’t disqualify them from receiving government benefits, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This trust requires careful drafting to ensure compliance with legal requirements.
  5. Education Trust: Specifically designed to fund educational expenses, this trust is an excellent way to ensure funds are used for your child’s education. It can cover tuition, books, living expenses, and other education-related costs.
  6. Spendthrift Trust: If you’re concerned about your child’s ability to manage money responsibly, a spendthrift trust can be beneficial. It provides a trustee with discretion over how and when distributions are made, protecting the assets from being quickly squandered or from creditors.

In choosing the best trust for your child, consider factors such as the purpose of the trust, the amount of control you wish to maintain, tax implications, and the specific needs and circumstances of your child. Consulting with an estate planning attorney is advisable to understand the nuances of each option and to tailor a trust that best fits your and your child’s needs.

Understanding Trusts in Texas

Before diving into the process of setting up a trust, it’s crucial to understand what a trust is and why it’s beneficial for your child. In simple terms, a trust is a legal arrangement where assets are held and managed by a trustee for the benefit of another person, known as the beneficiary. In Texas, trusts are governed by specific laws and regulations, which ensure that they are set up and operated correctly.

Trusts in Texas can be used for various purposes, such as providing for a child’s education, healthcare, and general welfare. They offer a level of control over how and when your assets are distributed to your child, which is not possible with direct inheritances. Additionally, trusts can provide tax benefits and protect assets from creditors.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with Texas trust laws relevant to your situation. Texas law is unique in certain aspects of trust creation and management, and understanding these nuances is key. For instance, Texas allows for the creation of perpetual trusts, which can exist indefinitely, unlike in some other states where there are restrictions on the duration of a trust.

Types of Trusts Available in Texas

Texas law recognizes several types of trusts, each with its own set of rules and benefits. The most common types include revocable, irrevocable, living, and testamentary trusts. Choosing the right type depends on your objectives and circumstances.

A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, is created during your lifetime and can be altered or revoked at any time. This flexibility is beneficial if your circumstances or intentions change over time. However, assets in a revocable trust are still considered part of your estate for tax purposes.

On the other hand, an irrevocable trust, once established, cannot be easily changed or revoked. This type of trust offers significant tax advantages and asset protection, as the assets transferred into it are no longer part of your estate. However, you lose control over these assets, which is a crucial factor to consider.

In Texas, you can also set up a testamentary trust through your will, which only comes into effect upon your death. This type of trust is often used to provide for minor children or family members who may not be capable of managing their own finances.

When deciding on the type of trust, consider factors like control, tax implications, and the needs of your child. Each type of trust serves different purposes and offers different benefits, so it’s essential to choose one that aligns with your goals.

Choosing a Trustee

Selecting a trustee is a critical decision in setting up a trust. The trustee is responsible for managing the trust’s assets and ensuring that the trust’s terms are followed for the benefit of your child. In Texas, a trustee can be anyone you trust – a family member, a close friend, or a professional trustee, such as a lawyer or a financial institution.

When choosing a trustee, consider their financial acumen, trustworthiness, and willingness to take on this responsibility. It’s often beneficial to choose someone who has a good relationship with your child and understands your family’s values and financial goals. For instance, a family member who is financially savvy and has a close bond with your child might be an ideal choice.

However, managing a trust can be complex and time-consuming, especially if it involves significant assets or complicated terms. In such cases, appointing a professional trustee might be preferable. Professional trustees bring expertise in financial management, legal compliance, and administrative duties associated with trusts. While they charge fees for their services, their expertise can be invaluable in ensuring that the trust is managed effectively and in accordance with Texas laws.

It’s also prudent to consider appointing a successor trustee who can step in if your initial choice is unable or unwilling to continue in their role. This foresight ensures that the management of the trust remains uninterrupted and your child’s interests are always protected.

Funding the Trust

Once you’ve established the type of trust and chosen a trustee, the next step is funding the trust. In Texas, you can fund a trust with various assets, including cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, and personal property. The assets you choose to place in the trust will depend on your financial situation and the goals of the trust.

For example, if the primary purpose of the trust is to provide for your child’s education, funding the trust with cash or investments that can grow over time might be the best option. If the trust is meant to provide long-term financial security, including real estate or other high-value assets might be more appropriate.

It’s important to consider the tax implications of transferring assets into a trust. In Texas, the tax treatment of trusts can vary depending on the type of trust and the assets involved. Consulting with a tax advisor or an estate planning attorney can provide clarity on these issues and help you make informed decisions about funding the trust.

Additionally, you’ll need to prepare and execute the necessary legal documents to transfer assets into the trust. This process often involves drafting deeds for real estate, changing beneficiary designations, or re-titling assets in the name of the trust. Proper documentation is crucial to ensure that the assets are legally and effectively transferred into the trust.

Legal Requirements and Documentation

Establishing a trust in Texas requires adhering to specific legal requirements and preparing comprehensive documentation. This is where the role of an estate planning attorney becomes invaluable. An attorney specialized in trusts and estate law can help draft the trust document, which outlines the terms of the trust, including its purpose, how the assets should be managed, and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

The trust document should clearly articulate your intentions and provide specific instructions for the trustee. It should detail how the assets are to be used for the benefit of your child, under what conditions distributions can be made, and any other provisions you wish to include, such as conditions for the termination of the trust.

In addition to the trust document, there are other legal formalities to consider. For example, if the trust includes real estate, a deed transferring the property to the trust must be prepared and recorded. Similarly, if you’re transferring financial accounts or investments, the financial institutions will require documentation to retitle these assets in the name of the trust.

The process of drafting and executing these documents must be done correctly to ensure that the trust is legally valid and effective. A Texas estate planning attorney will ensure that all legal requirements are met and that the trust aligns with state laws and regulations.

Managing the Trust

After the trust is set up and funded, the next phase is managing it effectively. This involves the trustee overseeing the trust’s assets and ensuring that they are used according to the terms set forth in the trust document. Proper management of the trust is crucial to protect the assets and achieve the intended benefits for your child.

The trustee’s responsibilities include investing the trust’s assets prudently, making distributions to the beneficiaries as specified in the trust, and maintaining accurate records of all transactions. The trustee must also ensure that the trust complies with all relevant laws and tax requirements.

In Texas, trustees have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. This includes making decisions that are in line with the trust’s objectives and avoiding any conflicts of interest. Regular communication with the beneficiaries about the trust’s performance and any significant decisions is also a key aspect of effective trust management.

It’s a good idea for the trustee to develop a management plan for the trust, which outlines how the assets will be invested and managed over time. This plan should be revisited and updated regularly to reflect changes in the market, the beneficiaries’ needs, and any other relevant factors.

Texas Trusts FAQs

What is the minimum amount required to set up a trust in Texas?

There is no legal minimum amount required to set up a trust in Texas. However, the practicality and cost-effectiveness of establishing a trust should be considered, especially if the assets involved are minimal.

Can a trust for a child be modified or revoked in Texas?

Whether a trust can be modified or revoked depends on the type of trust. Revocable trusts can be altered or dissolved by the grantor at any time, while irrevocable trusts generally cannot be changed once they are established.

How are trusts for minors taxed in Texas?

The taxation of trusts in Texas varies based on the type of trust and how it’s structured. Generally, trusts are subject to income tax on any income generated by the trust’s assets, and the tax rates can be different from individual tax rates.

What happens to the trust if the trustee is unable to continue their duties?

If the original trustee is unable to continue, a successor trustee, as designated in the trust document, will take over the management of the trust. If no successor is named, a court may appoint a new trustee.

Can you set up a trust without an attorney in Texas?

In Texas, it is legally possible to set up a trust without an attorney. However, doing so can be risky, especially if you are not familiar with the legal intricacies and requirements of trust formation. Trusts are complex legal entities, and even small errors in the trust document can lead to significant problems, including the trust not operating as intended, or being challenged in court.

Here are some points to consider if you’re thinking about setting up a trust without an attorney in Texas:

  1. Understanding Texas Trust Law: Trust laws can be complex and vary from state to state. It’s important to have a thorough understanding of Texas-specific trust laws to ensure your trust complies with state requirements.
  2. Drafting the Trust Document: The trust document needs to be carefully drafted to reflect your intentions, specify the terms of the trust, and include all necessary provisions. Generic forms or templates may not address all the specifics of your situation.
  3. Avoiding Errors: Mistakes in setting up a trust can lead to unintended tax consequences, disputes among beneficiaries, or the assets not being used as you intended. An attorney can help avoid these pitfalls.
  4. Complex Situations: If your situation involves substantial assets, multiple beneficiaries, or special circumstances (like a beneficiary with special needs), the complexity increases, and professional legal advice becomes even more critical.
  5. Legal and Tax Implications: Trusts have various legal and tax implications. An attorney can advise on the best type of trust for your situation, taking into consideration factors like estate taxes, income taxes, and asset protection.
  6. Peace of Mind: Using an attorney can provide peace of mind that the trust is set up correctly and that your intentions will be honored.

While it may be tempting to set up a trust without an attorney to save on costs, the risks often outweigh the benefits. If you decide to proceed without legal assistance, it’s crucial to educate yourself thoroughly on trust laws in Texas and ensure you understand all the implications of the decisions you make regarding the trust.


Setting up a trust for your child in Texas involves understanding the different types of trusts, choosing the right trustee, funding the trust with appropriate assets, adhering to legal requirements, and managing the trust effectively. With careful planning and expert guidance, a trust can provide significant benefits for your child, including financial security, tax advantages, and protection of assets. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your child’s financial future is well-protected and managed according to your wishes.

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Additional Research

Texas State Law Library – Estate Planning & Probate Guide: This guide provides an overview of estate planning and probate laws in Texas, which can be useful in understanding the legal framework surrounding trusts.

Texas Property Code – Chapter 112: This section of the Texas Property Code covers the creation, validity, modification, and termination of trusts, providing direct access to the legal statutes that govern trusts in Texas.

Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas – Wills, Trusts, and Estates Legal Treatises: This resource from the Tarlton Law Library offers a comprehensive list of legal treatises on wills, trusts, and estates, which can be a valuable reference for in-depth legal information.