What is a business trust?

What is a business trust?

What is a business trust?



A business trust is a legal entity that is created for the purpose of conducting business activities. It is a form of business organization that combines elements of a trust and a corporation. In a business trust, the trust property is used to carry out commercial activities, and the beneficiaries of the trust are the investors or shareholders who hold units or shares in the trust.

Understanding a Business Trust

A business trust is established through a trust agreement or declaration of trust, which outlines the terms and conditions of the trust. The trust agreement specifies the rights and obligations of the trustees, who are responsible for managing the trust and making decisions on behalf of the trust. The trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

One of the key features of a business trust is the separation of ownership and control. The trustees own and control the trust property, while the beneficiaries hold units or shares that represent their beneficial interest in the trust. This separation allows for the efficient management of the trust and provides a clear framework for the distribution of profits and assets.

Advantages of a Business Trust

Tax benefits: Business trusts can offer tax advantages, as they are often treated as pass-through entities for tax purposes. This means that the trust itself does not pay taxes on its income, but rather the income is passed through to the beneficiaries, who are then responsible for paying taxes on their share of the income.

Limited liability: Like corporations, business trusts provide limited liability protection to their beneficiaries. This means that the personal assets of the beneficiaries are generally protected from the liabilities of the trust. However, it is important to note that this protection may not be absolute, and there are circumstances where the beneficiaries may be held personally liable.

Flexibility: Business trusts offer flexibility in terms of their structure and operations. They can be established for a specific purpose or for a broader range of activities. The trust agreement can be customized to meet the specific needs and objectives of the trust and its beneficiaries. This flexibility allows for the efficient management and operation of the trust.

Disadvantages of a Business Trust

Complexity: Business trusts can be complex to set up and administer. The trust agreement and other legal documents must be carefully drafted to ensure that the trust is structured correctly and complies with applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, ongoing administrative tasks, such as maintaining records and filing tax returns, can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge.

Limited control: While the trustees have control over the trust property, the beneficiaries may have limited control over the decision-making process. The trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, but the beneficiaries may not have direct input or control over the day-to-day operations of the trust.


A business trust is a unique form of business organization that combines elements of a trust and a corporation. It offers advantages such as tax benefits, limited liability, and flexibility. However, it also comes with disadvantages, including complexity and limited control. Understanding the characteristics and considerations of a business trust is essential for those considering this form of business organization.


– Investopedia: www.investopedia.com/terms/b/businesstrust.asp
– LegalZoom: www.legalzoom.com/business/business-formation/business-trust-overview.html
– The Balance Small Business: www.thebalancesmb.com/business-trust-what-it-is-and-how-it-works-398825