Directed Trust

Directed Trust
Directed Trust
Full Overview Of Directed Trust

At DLS Solicitors, we recognise that understanding the intricacies of trust law can be overwhelming. One increasingly popular structure in recent years is the directed trust. This overview is designed to thoroughly explore directed trusts, including their benefits, drawbacks, and practical uses, customised for our discerning clients and partners.

What is a Directed Trust?

A directed trust is a type of trust arrangement where the trustee’s duties and responsibilities are directed or controlled by one or more third parties, known as “trust directors” or “trust advisors.” Unlike traditional trusts, where the trustee has broad discretion and control over the trust’s management and investment decisions, directed trusts segregate these responsibilities, allowing for specialised management and oversight.

Key Components of a Directed Trust

  1. Trustee: The trustee in a directed trust holds the legal title to the trust assets and performs administrative duties, but their role in decision-making is limited by the directions given by the trust director.
  2. Trust Director: The trust director, sometimes referred to as the trust protector or advisor, is granted authority over specific aspects of the trust, such as investment decisions, distributions, or other fiduciary duties. This role is pivotal in ensuring that the trust is managed according to the settlor’s wishes and the beneficiaries’ best interests.
  3. Settlor: The settlor is the individual who establishes the trust, transferring assets into it and defining its terms, including the appointment of the trustee and trust director.
  4. Beneficiaries: The beneficiaries are those who benefit from the trust, receiving income or principal distributions according to the trust’s terms.

Advantages of Directed Trusts

  1. Specialised Expertise: Directed trusts allow for the inclusion of professionals with specific expertise, such as financial advisors or investment managers, to oversee certain aspects of the trust. This ensures that the trust assets are managed by those best qualified to do so.
  2. Enhanced Flexibility: By segregating duties, directed trusts offer greater flexibility in management and oversight. This structure can be particularly beneficial for complex or sizable estates requiring diverse management skills.
  3. Increased Control: Settlers can retain greater control over the trust by specifying the roles and powers of the trustee and trust director. This can be particularly advantageous in ensuring that the trust operates in line with the settlor’s vision.
  4. Risk Mitigation: Directed trusts can mitigate risks associated with trustee liability. Since the trustee’s actions are directed, their liability is often limited to administrative functions, reducing exposure to investment-related liabilities.

Disadvantages of Directed Trusts

  1. Complexity: The structure of directed trusts can be more complex than traditional trusts, requiring clear and precise documentation to delineate the roles and responsibilities of the trustee and trust director.
  2. Cost: The need for specialised advisors and directors can increase the administrative costs of the trust. This could be a consideration for smaller estates where the costs may outweigh the benefits.
  3. Potential for Conflict: The division of responsibilities can lead to potential conflicts between the trustee and the trust director, particularly if there is a lack of clarity in the trust documents or if their interests diverge.
  4. Regulatory Variability: The legal framework for directed trusts varies by jurisdiction, with some regions having more developed laws than others. This can impact the administration and enforcement of the trust’s terms.

The concept and implementation of directed trusts are subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which the trust is established. In the UK, the trust law framework is primarily derived from common law principles, statutory provisions, and precedents set by court decisions. It is essential for the trust documents to be drafted in accordance with the relevant legal requirements to ensure enforceability and compliance.

In recent years, several jurisdictions, particularly offshore financial centres, have developed sophisticated legal frameworks to accommodate directed trusts. These jurisdictions often offer favourable conditions, including robust legal protections for trustees and trust directors, as well as tax advantages.

Practical Applications of Directed Trusts

  1. Wealth Management: Directed trusts are particularly beneficial for high-net-worth individuals seeking to manage and protect their wealth across generations. By appointing expert investment managers as trust directors, settlers can ensure that their assets are managed to achieve optimal growth and preservation.
  2. Business Succession Planning: For business owners, directed trusts provide a mechanism to ensure smooth succession planning. By directing specific individuals to oversee business operations or shares, owners can maintain continuity and stability within their enterprises.
  3. Asset Protection: Directed trusts offer enhanced asset protection features, particularly in jurisdictions with strong trust laws. By segregating control and management functions, these trusts can provide an additional layer of security against potential creditors or legal claims.
  4. Charitable Trusts: Directed trusts are also useful in the administration of charitable trusts. By appointing directors with specific expertise in charitable activities or grant-making, settlers can ensure that the trust’s charitable purposes are effectively fulfilled.

Drafting and Administration of Directed Trusts

When establishing a directed trust, it is crucial to draft comprehensive and precise trust documents. These documents should clearly outline the trustee and trust director’s roles and responsibilities, including any limitations on their powers and the mechanisms for resolving disputes.

Key elements to consider in the drafting process include:

  1. Scope of Authority: Define the specific areas of authority for the trust director, such as investment decisions, distributions, or amendments to the trust.
  2. Appointment and Removal: Establish clear procedures for appointing, removing, and replacing trustees and trust directors. This includes defining the circumstances under which these changes can occur and the processes for implementing them.
  3. Decision-Making Processes: Outline the decision-making processes, including how directions are to be communicated, recorded, and executed. This helps to ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of the trust.
  4. Dispute Resolution: Include provisions for resolving disputes between the trustee and trust director, such as mediation or arbitration. This can help to mitigate potential conflicts and ensure the smooth operation of the trust.


Directed trusts offer a flexible and dynamic option for modern estate planning and wealth management. By leveraging the expertise of specialised advisors and clearly delineating responsibilities, directed trusts can provide enhanced control, protection, and efficiency in the administration of trust assets.

At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to providing our clients with customised solutions that meet their unique needs and objectives. Our team of experienced trust and estate planning professionals can help guide you through the complexities of directed trusts, ensuring that your assets are managed according to your wishes and for the benefit of your beneficiaries.

Whether you are considering establishing a directed trust, need assistance with drafting trust documents, or require ongoing administration services, DLS Solicitors is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve your estate planning goals with the innovative structure of directed trusts.

Directed Trust FAQ'S

A directed trust is a type of trust where the trustee is directed by another party (the “trust director” or “protector”) regarding certain aspects of the trust’s administration or investment decisions. This allows for specialized management of trust assets.

A trust director or protector can be any individual or entity designated in the trust deed, including a family member, a professional advisor, or an independent third party with expertise relevant to the trust’s administration.

The trust director’s powers can vary widely and are defined in the trust deed. They may include powers to direct investments, make distributions, amend the trust, or even replace the trustee.

In a directed trust, the trustee’s responsibilities are limited to following the directions of the trust director regarding specific decisions. However, the trustee still retains fiduciary duties for other aspects of the trust’s administration.

Yes, a trust director can be held liable for their decisions if they act negligently, fraudulently, or in breach of their fiduciary duties as outlined in the trust deed or applicable law.

In a traditional trust, the trustee has full control over the administration and investment of the trust assets. In a directed trust, the trustee’s powers are limited by the directions of the trust director, allowing for a division of responsibilities and expertise.

Yes, directed trusts are recognised in the UK, although they are more commonly used in certain offshore jurisdictions. UK law allows for the creation of directed trusts, provided the terms are clearly defined in the trust deed.

The benefits of a directed trust include allowing for specialised expertise in investment decisions, providing greater flexibility in trust administration, and potentially reducing the liability of trustees for certain decisions.

Yes, a directed trust can be challenged in court, particularly if there are allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, mismanagement, or other issues related to the actions of the trustee or trust director.

A directed trust can be set up by drafting a trust deed that clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of the trustee and trust director. It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure the trust deed complies with relevant laws and accurately reflects the settlor’s intentions.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 16th July 2024.

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Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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