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Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust


A Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust is a type of legal arrangement providing financial benefits to a surviving spouse while preserving the estate’s principal for beneficiaries. The trust grants the surviving spouse lifetime income through interest payments, but restricts access to the trust’s principal. Upon the surviving spouse’s death, the remaining assets are distributed to the predetermined beneficiaries, often children from a previous marriage.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust” is:- Qualified: /ˈkwäləˌfīd/- Terminable: /ˈtɜrmɪnəb(ə)l /- Interest: /ˈintrəst/- Property: /ˈprä-pər-tē/- QTIP: /ˈkju tɪp/- Trust: /trəst/

Key Takeaways

  1. Marital Deduction and Estate Tax Planning: A QTIP trust is designed to help a married couple optimize their estate tax planning. The QTIP trust allows the surviving spouse to receive income from the trust assets, and the assets within the trust will qualify for the federal estate tax marital deduction, potentially reducing or eliminating estate taxes.
  2. Control of Trust Assets: The deceased spouse retains some control over the trust assets by specifying the terms of the trust and choosing the trustee. This ensures the assets will be managed according to the deceased spouse’s wishes and will be distributed to the chosen beneficiaries upon the surviving spouse’s death.
  3. Protecting Beneficiaries: A QTIP trust can provide protection for the intended beneficiaries, such as children from a previous marriage. The QTIP trust can ensure these beneficiaries ultimately receive the remaining trust assets, rather than allowing these assets to be diverted to a new spouse or other unintended beneficiaries through the surviving spouse’s own estate planning.


The Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust is an essential estate planning tool used to provide financial security and minimize estate taxes for surviving spouses in the transfer of assets. By establishing a QTIP Trust, the grantor ensures that the surviving spouse receives lifetime income from the trust assets, while maintaining control over the distribution of remaining assets to their intended beneficiaries upon the spouse’s death. This mechanism not only protects the spouse’s financial well-being but also allows wealthy individuals to take full advantage of the unlimited marital deduction, reducing or eliminating the estate tax burden. Overall, the QTIP Trust plays a crucial role in preserving assets and providing financial stability for families in a tax-efficient manner.


A Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) trust serves as an essential estate planning tool designed to maximize the benefits associated with wealth transfer and ensure maximum asset protection for beneficiaries, particularly in situations involving blended families or substantial estates. The primary purpose of a QTIP trust is to provide a lifetime income for a surviving spouse while preserving the remaining assets for the grantor’s chosen beneficiaries, such as children from a previous marriage. In this way, the grantor retains some degree of control over the distribution of their wealth even after their death, striking a balance between supporting their surviving spouse’s financial needs and maintaining the inheritance for their other beneficiaries. In addition to providing financial security for a surviving spouse, a QTIP trust also offers significant estate tax benefits. Assets transferred into a QTIP trust qualify for the federal estate tax marital deduction, meaning that the assets are not subject to estate tax upon the initial transfer. This allows the grantor to efficiently transfer assets to their spouse without incurring immediate tax consequences. Upon the surviving spouse’s death, however, the remaining assets in the trust become part of their taxable estate, despite being designated for the grantor’s chosen beneficiaries. Nonetheless, the use of a QTIP trust in estate planning can ensure that assets are passed on to the intended recipients while easing the tax burden and maintaining financial stability for the surviving spouse.


1. Estate Planning for a Second Marriage: John and Jane, a married couple, each have children from their previous marriages. To ensure that their respective children receive their fair share of inheritance and avoid potential conflicts, they decide to create QTIP trusts. Upon John’s death, the income from his trust is given to Jane for her lifetime, but the trust’s principal remains intact. When Jane dies, the trust’s principal is distributed among John’s children from his previous marriage. Similarly, Jane sets up a QTIP trust for her heirs. This way, they can provide financial support for the surviving spouse while ensuring their children still receive their intended inheritance. 2. Protecting Assets from Creditors: Sarah, a successful business owner, is concerned about potential lawsuits or claims against her business. To shield her assets and protect her estate from legal claims, she establishes a QTIP trust for her husband, Tom. Sarah transfers some of her assets into the QTIP trust, which grants Tom the right to receive income from the trust for his lifetime. Upon Tom’s death, the trust’s principal will be distributed to their children. Since the assets by then belong to the QTIP trust and not Sarah herself, this strategy can help safeguard the family wealth from legal claims. 3. Providing for Children with Special Needs: Mary and Mark have two children, one of whom has special needs. They want to ensure their child receives quality care and financial support even after their deaths. They establish a QTIP trust and designate a trustee to manage the trust and provide income for the benefit of their special needs child. After the death of both parents, the trust’s principal will pass to their other child and perhaps other heirs. By using a QTIP trust, they can provide for their special needs child without compromising the inheritance for their other child and future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust?
A Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trust is a type of trust that is designed to provide financial support to a surviving spouse while preserving the trust assets for the couple’s beneficiaries, such as their children. The trust allows the grantor to control how the assets are distributed after the surviving spouse’s death.
What is the purpose of a QTIP Trust?
The primary purpose of a QTIP Trust is to offer financial support to the surviving spouse while ensuring that the trust assets are ultimately passed on to the designated beneficiaries, usually the couple’s children. It helps to manage tax liabilities and estate-related concerns and offers increased asset protection.
How does a QTIP Trust work?
A QTIP Trust is established by the grantor (the person creating the trust) by transferring assets into the trust. Upon the grantor’s death, the surviving spouse will receive income generated by the trust assets. The spouse does not have control over the trust’s principal, ensuring that the principal remains preserved for the designated beneficiaries. Once the surviving spouse passes away, the trust assets will be distributed to the designated beneficiaries.
What are the tax benefits of a QTIP Trust?
A QTIP Trust offers several tax benefits. Firstly, assets transferred to the trust may qualify for the marital deduction, which reduces the taxable estate of the grantor. Secondly, the trust can defer estate taxes owed on the trust property until the surviving spouse’s death, allowing the couple to take advantage of both their estate tax exemptions.
How is a QTIP Trust different from other types of trusts?
Unlike other trusts, a QTIP Trust is specifically designed to benefit a surviving spouse while preserving the trust assets for designated beneficiaries. The primary difference from other trusts is the lack of control the surviving spouse has over the trust’s principal assets, ensuring that they will be passed on to the designated beneficiaries.
Can a QTIP Trust be modified or terminated?
A QTIP Trust is generally irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed or terminated once it is established. However, under certain circumstances, such as changes in tax laws or the consent of all involved parties, modifications may be possible. It is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney when considering modifications to a QTIP Trust.
Who should consider establishing a QTIP Trust?
Couples with significant assets, blended families, or those who want to provide for their spouse while preserving assets for their children or other designated beneficiaries may consider establishing a QTIP Trust. It is important to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine whether a QTIP Trust is the best choice for your unique situation.

Related Finance Terms

  • Marital Deduction
  • Estate Tax
  • Surviving Spouse
  • Income Beneficiary
  • Remainder Beneficiary

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