January 13, 2017
US News & World Report quoted me in Here’s What We Know About Donald Trump’s Trust Fund. It opens,
With all the talk about how Donald Trump will be handling his vast business empire as he assumes the presidency, some questions were finally answered this week, and this much is clear: Donald Trump is putting his business assets in a trust.
“Through the trust agreement, he has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization to his sons Don and Eric, and a longtime Trump executive, Alan Weiselberg,” says Sheri Dillon, a lawyer for the president-elect.
But what does that mean?
What is a trust to begin with? A trust is a legal structure with three main parties: The trustor, trustee and beneficiary. The trustor gives another party, the trustee, the right to manage the specified assets for the benefit of its designated beneficiaries.
“According to Trump, his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as a business associate, would be the trustees. After transferring the assets to the trust, Trump could then be a beneficiary of the trust,” says David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School. “The trustees administer the affairs of the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries. The beneficiary receives the income from the trust or the property within the trust.”
Trump has previously said his children will be the primary financial beneficiaries of the trust, but Trump made it clear that he planned on returning to the Trump Organization when his presidency is over. At that point, it’s possible Trump could have a fat check waiting for him, depending on the trust’s structure.
“The trust’s income or property could be doled out on an ongoing basis or deferred to some future point in time, depending on the terms of the trust,” Reiss says.