What is a Bare Trust and Why Is It Useful?

Are you curious about how bare trusts work?

Bare trusts might sound complex, but they’re actually straightforward legal arrangements that offer significant benefits.

Unlike other types of trusts, bare trusts are characterized by their simplicity and clear definition of roles.

This simplicity offers several benefits, including privacy, flexibility in asset management, reduced probate fees, and opportunities for tax planning.

This makes bare trusts an attractive option for individuals seeking efficient wealth transfer and estate planning solutions.

What is a Bare Trust?

A bare trust is a straightforward legal arrangement where a trustee holds the legal title to assets, but the beneficiary retains absolute control over them.

Think of the trustee as the wallet holder, the one who technically owns the wallet and its contents. The beneficiary, on the other hand, decides how to use the money inside the wallet.

This is how a bare trust works, with the trustee holding legal ownership and the beneficiary enjoying full control and benefits of the assets.

Bare trusts stand out because they are simple and offer a straightforward solution for managing assets.

How Does a Bare Trust Work?

A bare trust operates on a simple premise: the trustee holds legal title, while the beneficiary enjoys full control and benefits.

This straightforward structure offers privacy, asset management flexibility, and tax planning advantages, making bare trusts an appealing option for efficient wealth transfer and estate planning.

Here’s how a bare trust works:

The Trustee

In a bare trust, the trustee plays a crucial role. This individual or entity holds legal ownership of the assets within the trust.

However, unlike other types of trusts, where trustees often have discretionary powers or obligations to manage the assets, their role is primarily administrative in a bare trust.

The trustee’s duty is to manage the assets according to the beneficiary’s instructions, essentially acting as a custodian of the assets.


The beneficiary of a bare trust enjoys a unique position. Despite not holding legal title to the assets, they have complete control and entitlement over them.

This means they can use, manage, and benefit from the assets as they see fit, without interference from the trustee.

Whether it’s accessing funds, making investments, or directing the trustee on asset management, the beneficiary has autonomy within the confines of the trust arrangement.

Setting Up a Bare Trust

Establishing a bare trust involves straightforward steps:

  • Appoint a Trustee: Choose an individual or entity to hold legal ownership of the assets within the trust.
  • Designate Beneficiaries: Specify who will have control and benefit from the assets held in the trust.
  • Draft a Trust Deed: Create a legal document outlining the terms and conditions of the trust arrangement.
  • Transfer Assets: Move the assets you wish to include in the trust into the trust’s name, formally establishing the trust arrangement.
  • Ensure Compliance: Ensure that the trust is set up in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.
  • Record Keeping: Maintain accurate records of trust activities, transactions, and communications between trustees and beneficiaries.
  • Regular Reviews: Periodically review the trust’s performance, beneficiaries’ needs, and any changes in applicable laws to ensure the trust remains effective and compliant.

Setting up a bare trust involves appointing a trustee, designating beneficiaries, transferring assets, and drafting a trust deed to establish the arrangement.

Ensuring compliance, maintaining records, and conducting regular reviews are essential steps to maintain the trust’s effectiveness and adherence to legal requirements.

Why Use a Bare Trust?

Having a bare trust offers many benefits, from secure asset management to reducing tax liabilities. Here are some of the reasons individuals opt to use a bare trust:


Bare trusts offer a high level of privacy since legal ownership of assets is held by the trustee, shielding them from public disclosure.

This confidentiality can be advantageous for individuals seeking to protect their wealth and financial affairs from scrutiny.

Asset Management

Bare trusts provide a secure means of asset management for minors or individuals who are unable or unwilling to manage their assets directly.

The trustee holds legal title to the assets but must follow the beneficiary’s instructions, ensuring efficient management in accordance with their wishes.

Reduced Probate Fees

Assets held within a bare trust typically bypass the probate process upon the beneficiary’s death.

As a result, probate fees, which can be substantial, are minimized or eliminated altogether, saving beneficiaries and their heirs time and money.

Tax Planning

Bare trusts offer valuable opportunities for tax planning and mitigation.

By transferring assets into a bare trust, individuals can potentially reduce their tax liabilities, optimize their estate planning strategies, and ensure the efficient transfer of wealth to future generations.

Things to Consider with Bare Trusts

While bare trusts are simple and advantageous, there are factors that should be taken into consideration before setting one up:

The Benefits of a Bare Trust

Bare trusts offer a level of flexibility that can adapt to changing circumstances.

Unlike other trust structures that may impose restrictions or conditions, bare trusts allow beneficiaries unrestricted access to assets, empowering them to make financial decisions aligned with their evolving needs and goals.

Bare trusts can also serve as a valuable tool for succession planning, enabling individuals to pass on their wealth seamlessly while maintaining control over how their assets are distributed.

When to Use a Bare Trust

Bare trusts are ideal in various situations, such as when individuals wish to provide for their children’s or grandchildren’s future financial security.

By establishing a bare trust, parents can ensure that their children inherit assets responsibly once they reach adulthood, avoiding potential mismanagement or misuse.

Bare trusts are advantageous for individuals seeking to protect assets from potential creditors or legal disputes, as the assets held within the trust are generally shielded from such claims.

CRA Changes 

Recent changes by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have highlighted the importance of proactively managing bare trusts to remain compliant with tax laws.

These changes may impact tax planning strategies associated with bare trusts, necessitating a thorough review of existing trust arrangements to ensure they align with current regulations.

Failure to address these changes could result in unintended tax consequences or penalties, underscoring the need for ongoing monitoring and adjustment as necessary.

Seeking Professional Help

Given the intricacies involved in establishing and managing bare trusts, seeking professional assistance is essential to effectively navigate potential pitfalls.

Legal and financial professionals with expertise in trust law, such as Liu & Associates, can offer invaluable guidance tailored to an individual’s specific circumstances and objectives.

From structuring the trust to ongoing administration and compliance, working with experienced professionals ensures that bare trusts serve their intended purposes while minimizing risks and maximizing benefits for all parties involved.

Proactive Estate Planning With Liu & Associates

A bare trust is a straightforward yet powerful legal tool for asset management and estate planning.

Contact Liu & Associates today to explore how a bare trust can benefit you and your family.

Our experienced team can help you navigate the complexities of bare trusts and implement strategies to optimize your financial security and legacy.

Partner with us today and experience the peace of mind that comes with proactive estate planning and asset protection.