What is a trust and when or why would I use one?

What is a trust? A trust is a separate legal and taxable entity that is set up by a settlor to hold assets that will be eventually transferred to a beneficiary(ies). The assets are managed by a trustee who can distribute the assets themselves or the income derived by the assets (such as dividends, interest and capital gains) which then will be taxed in the beneficiary(ies) tax return.
But a lot of that sounds like accounting lingo, so why would you ever use something like this? 
While a company is growing and accumulating wealth, trusts can be used to split income from the company (in the form of dividends) to adult members of the family (this can be used for things like University fees). It can also be used to protect and enhance the capital gains exemption. 
Later in life, trusts can be used in estate planning to move assets (such as companies, property, investments, etc.) to future generations. Assets transferred to a trust are not currently subject to probate or the Wills Variation Act; this ensures that your assets retain maximum value when transferring to family members and that your final wishes are less likely to be challenged.  
Trusts can be a very beneficial tax entity, but with all tax situations, everyone is individual. If you would like further information on how a trust can help you, please contact our office.