Dynasty trusts often conjure up images of very wealthy families that have a great deal of money to pass onto their heirs. However, dynasty trusts can actually be an effective tool for families with more average assets to distribute. Investopedia defines dynasty trusts as long-term trusts established to transfer wealth from generation to generation while avoiding the incurrence of transfer taxes such as the estate tax and the gift tax. Before deciding if a dynasty trust is right for your needs, it is important to understand how they work and whether or not their benefits will meet your individual needs.
Basically, dynasty trusts are established so that they can survive for 21 years after the death of the last person for whom the trust was established. Theoretically, this means such trusts could be in existence for more than 100 years. Typically, the original beneficiaries are the children of the person that has established the trust. When those children die, the trust typically begins to benefit the grandchildren and possibly great-grandchildren of the individual that established the trust. This is why they are referred to as dynasty trusts because they can continue to benefit several generations of heirs. Dynasty trusts are irrevocable, which means that the person that establishes such a trust will have no control over the trust or its terms once it is funded. Instead, it will be controlled by a trustee appointed by the person that has established the trust.