Testamentary Trusts

You work hard for the things you have, and you want to ensure what you earn is protected for future generations. Many estate planning options are available to help you do this, but knowing what is right for you and your family can be challenging. 

The best way to safeguard and distribute your assets may be with a testamentary trust. Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., is an experienced estate planning law firm serving clients in Southeastern Massachusetts. Our estate planning lawyers can help you establish a will and trust or assist with administering a loved one’s estate. 

We know that thinking about what will happen after you are gone can be difficult and emotional. Let our experienced and compassionate legal team guide you. Contact us today for a consultation. 

What Is a Testamentary Trust? 

A testamentary trust is a type of trust included in an individual’s last will and testament. The creator of the testamentary trust (the grantor) outlines how they would like the assets in their will managed after they pass.

The testamentary trust must name a trustee to oversee the distribution of the trust. The grantor must also name one or more beneficiaries and include instructions for how they will receive the assets.

Testamentary trusts can be a good option for parents of minor children because they allow them to name the children as beneficiaries and protect the assets until the children reach adulthood. A testamentary trust can also mandate that certain conditions be met before a child can inherit, such as graduating from high school or reaching a specified age. 

Testamentary trusts differ from living trusts in that the trust does not go into effect until after the grantor’s death. Until such time, the grantor can change or revoke the trust. After death, it is usually irrevocable. With a living trust, the trust is established while the grantor is alive, but managed by the trustee. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Testamentary Trust

There are advantages and disadvantages to establishing a testamentary trust versus a living trust.


  • A testamentary trust allows parents to leave assets to minor children and protects them until the children are old enough to handle them responsibly. 
  • Grantors can name multiple beneficiaries.
  • It allows for the growth of assets since the trust does not go into effect until after the grantor’s death. 
  • The grantor can alter the trust while alive. 
  • The cost of the trust comes out of the grantor’s estate, so it is less expensive to establish upfront than a living trust. 


  • Unlike a living trust, which goes through trust administration, a testamentary trust must go through probate. Probate is the court-supervised process of administering an estate. Probate can be more expensive and time-consuming than trust administration, which does not involve the courts. 
  • Because the trust goes through probate, assets and beneficiaries become part of the public record. 
  • Trustees must oversee the trust and regularly meet with the probate court until the trust expires. If the beneficiaries include minor children, this may take years. 

Our Southeastern Massachusetts estate planning lawyers can help you establish a testamentary trust if that option best protects your assets and beneficiaries. If you are an executor or trustee, our trust administration attorneys can help you navigate probate and ensure the grantor’s wishes are fulfilled. 

Duties of a Trustee

Whether administering a testamentary trust or a living trust, trustees have a lot of responsibilities. If you are in charge of overseeing a loved one’s estate, tasks on your plate may include:

  • Taking control of and inventorying the estate’s assets
  • Obtaining appraisals
  • Sending notice to beneficiaries and creditors
  • Filing the proper forms with the New Bedford Probate and Family Court
  • Representing the estate in probate court
  • Managing and distributing assets in the trust according to the grantor’s instructions
  • Investing assets for minor beneficiaries
  • Notifying banks and other institutions of the grantor’s death
  • Paying the estate’s taxes, debts, and expenses
  • Dissolving the trust once it expires

Do You Need a Testamentary Trusts Lawyer? 

Many people put off estate planning or wrongly assume creating a will and trust is only for the wealthy. In truth, estate planning can reassure everyone that the inheritance they leave goes to those they intend. This peace of mind can be particularly essential for parents of small children. 

Our Southeastern Massachusetts testamentary trust lawyers can help you create binding legal documents that clearly outline your directives. We can offer you trustworthy and informed advice throughout the process. 

If you are a trustee or executor, overseeing an estate can seem overwhelming, especially while grieving. We can guide you through probate court or the trust administration process and handle many of the details involved. Enlisting our help relieves your legal burden so you can focus on your family and healing from your loss. A lawyer can also assist with any issues or estate litigation that may arise. 

Our estate planning attorneys can also help with other planning and elder law needs, including:

  • Creating a last will and testament
  • Naming a power of attorney or health care proxy
  • Creating an advance health care directive
  • Establishing revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts
  • Establishing conservatorships and guardianships
  • Applying for Massachusetts Medicaid (Mass Health) 

Contact Our Southeastern Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Today

Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., can offer you the peace of mind that comes from making a comprehensive estate plan. We can help you safeguard your legacy with a testamentary trust or assist with trust administration after a loved one’s passing.

We have a reputation for serving clients with integrity and personalized attention. Our testamentary trust lawyers serve clients across Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod, with offices conveniently located in New Bedford, Easton, and Hyannis. Contact us for a consultation to learn more about how we can address your estate planning needs.