What is a Trust Statement of Intent? Explore Examples and Understand its Importance

Setting up a trust is a significant step in estate planning, but the trust making process isn’t only about legalities and financial logistics—it also has a lot to do with intent. An essential element is the trust statement of intent—also known as the purpose of the trust. The more accurately we can capture the trustmaker’s objectives, the more efficient the trust will be.

What Is a Trust Statement of Intent?

A trust statement of intent serves two primary purposes: to guide the administration of the trust and to address potential legal considerations that may arise in the future. It is essentially a written document that explicitly outlines the trust-maker’s intents and purposes for the trust.

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Components of a Trust Statement of Intent

A comprehensive trust statement of intent normally includes two parts:

  • Statement of Intent or Purpose within the Trust Document: This is expressed within the trust itself. It guides the trustee in administering the trust effectively and is considered during potential modifications or terminations of the trust by a court.
  • Letters of Intent Separate from the Trust Document: These are nonbinding letters written by the trustmaker to the trustee. They provide specific guidance to the trustee, using more personal language rather than legal jargon. They are often used when the trustmaker wishes to provide additional instruction without legally altering the terms of the trust.

Examples of Trust Statement of Intent

The contents of a trust statement of intent can vary significantly depending on the trust-maker’s goals. Some typical elements highlighted might include:

  • The wish to eliminate or reduce estate taxes.
  • The desire to protect the trust’s assets from beneficiaries’ creditors or divorcing spouses.
  • The intention to educate trust beneficiaries in financial management.
  • The aim to provide for a disabled beneficiary.
  • The intent to preserve the family home, despite the cost, for enjoyment by many future generations.
  • Instructions for specific property distributions, such as heirlooms, especially if they are not distributed equally among beneficiaries.
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The Importance of Review and Update

As your circumstances and wishes might change over time, it is crucial to regularly review and update your statements of intent within your trust document and your separate letters of intent. Ensuring they accurately express your wishes is a key element of effective estate planning.


A trust statement of intent plays a crucial role in trust administration by offering valuable insight into the trust-maker’s intentions. It helps trustees make informed decisions and supports beneficiaries in understanding the trust-maker’s objectives. By clearly documenting your intents and purposes, you can create a trust that truly reflects your wishes and serves its intended purpose over time.

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