DEFINITION of 'A-B Trust'

A trust created by a married couple with the objective of minimizing estate taxes. An A-B trust is is a trust that divides into two upon the death of the first spouse. It is formed with each spouse placing assets in the trust and naming as the final beneficiary any suitable person except the other spouse. The trust gets its name from the fact that it splits into two upon the first spouse's death – trust A or the survivor's trust, and trust B or the decedent's trust.

BREAKING DOWN 'A-B Trust'

The surviving spouse has complete control over the survivor's trust, which contains his or her property interests, but has limited control over the assets in the deceased spouse's trust. However, this limited control over the assets in the decedent's trust will still enable the surviving spouse to live in the couple's house and draw income from the trust, provided these terms are stipulated in the trust. Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the property in the decedent's trust passes to the beneficiary(s) named in this trust. As this property is not considered part of the second spouse's estate for purposes of estate tax, double-taxation is avoided.

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