The Donald J. Trust

February 16, 2017 Noah Weisberg Beneficiary Designations, Executors and Trustees, In the News, Trustees Tags: , , , , , , 0 Comments

The media cannot get enough of President Donald Trump.  Regardless of whether you turn on the television, or pick up a newspaper, there seem to be endless articles about the policies and the decisions he has made.  As this is an estates blog, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the recent commentary regarding the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust (the “Trust”).

Before his election, the then President-elect Donald Trump was questioned as to whether he intended to place his assets in a blind trust.

What is a blind trust? In order to answer this, I refer to a prior Hull & Hull blog which states that, “a blind trust can be thought of as an individual relinquishing control over their assets, and providing them to a trustee to manage them on their behalf. The trustee has complete discretion over how to invest the individual’s assets, with the beneficiary being provided with no information regarding how the investments are being held, and the beneficiary having no say in how the funds are managed. As the beneficiary has no idea what their funds are invested in, the theory is that they would not be inclined to enact government policy which would favour their own investments, and that they would be able to avoid a conflict of interest”.

Documents recently made available to the public provide insight into the terms of the Trust.  For instance, the assets of the Trust include liquid assets (from the sale of investments), as well as his physical and intellectual properties.  The Trustees of the Trust are the President’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organisation’s chief financial officer.  Apparently, the President has the ability to revoke the trustees’ authority (I presume by saying, ‘you’re fired’) at any time. Moreover, according to the New York Times, the President will continue to receive reports on any profits/losses.

Of course, there are two views as to whether these Trust terms constitute a blind trust.  While some pundits suggest that the Trust satisfactorily distances the President from his assets, others suggest that the President has not gone far enough to absolve himself of potential conflicts of interest and is therefore not a blind trust.

Find this topic interesting?  Please consider these related Hull & Hull LLP Blogs & Podcasts:

Noah Weisberg

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