What Is A Bypass Trust? How does It work? Do You Need It?

What is a bypass trust you must have thought when going through an estate plan and came across the term bypass trust? Estate planning is a very important step to be taken especially if you are married and want your spouse to have assets. A bypass trust helps your estate planning. When you are completely aware of what is a bypass trust and how it shall be beneficial your estate plan could be done in a better way.

What Is A Bypass Trust?

A bypass trust is especially for married couples as an estate planning strategy to avoid the estate tax on some assets. The bypass trust is also called a credit shelter trust or AB Trust. In this when a spouse dies the assets are divided into 2 parts. A Trust and B trust.

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Bypass Trust Distribution Rules

  • Trust A is also known as marital trust. It is a revocable trust for the living spouse. This trust has certain terms that can be changed by the person who has established the trust.
  • When the surviving spouse dies these assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries and will bypass any estate tax liability.
  • B Trust is also known as a family trust. This goes to the family of the dead spouse. It is an irrevocable trust this means the terms cannot be changed of this trust.

The spouse surviving has no access to the B trust but can receive income from it. Whatever part of the estate doesn’t go in B trust is a part of the trust. A trust is controlled by the living spouse and they can sell, spend, and even give away the assets as they want to.

Bypass Trust Definition

Bypass Trust is an irrevocable trust where a married couple transfers their ownership of their property in a trust. And when a spouse dies the assets are divided into 2 trusts A and A. Trust goes to the surviving spouse and B goes to the family.

How A Bypass Trust Works?

After knowing what is a bypass trust let us see how it works? In a Bypass trust when a spouse dies the estate is transferred to the surviving spouse. The transfer is done without paying any estate tax due to the marital deduction. In marital deduction the transfer of assets between spouses is tax-free. The estate has to pay a tax when the surviving spouse dies and the money or assets are for the beneficiaries.

In a bypass trust, the assets can be divided into two trusts and the values can be below the federal estate tax exemption. Commonly all the instructions are provided in the will for the trusts.

Do You Need Bypass Trust?

Bypass Trust can be very useful. Like if you leave your assets or money to your descendants without a proper estate plan and bypass trust the tax amount to be paid on the transferred assets will be high. The options of gift and estate tax credits are there that will give you some tax benefits. But if you have a significant estate then you should plan a proper estate for it.

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Bypass Trust Example

For example, let’s say you leave $30 million for your spouse and children in your will directly then they will have to pay nearly $7.4 million as tax. But if you make a proper estate plan with bypass trust then you can divide the asset of $30 million into 2 parts that are $20 million for spouse and $20 million for children. Here the tax bill to be paid will be zero because both the amount in the trusts are under exemption limit.


How does the bypass trust work?

The bypass trust also is known as AB trust is legal prearrangement for married couples that helps estate tax on assets when one or both spouses dies. When a spouse is no more then the assets are divided into two different trusts.

Is a bypass trust necessary?

A bypass trust is very beneficial. If the estate is more than the current estate tax exemption then this is the best way to say estate tax. You must consult an attorney for preparing a proper estate plan.

Can a bypass trust be terminated?

A Bypass Trust is created when one of the spouses dies. This is an irrevocable trust that cannot be changed or terminated by the surviving spouse. Mostly the trust is specified that is the creation and funding of the assets have to be done


Above we have explained to you what is a bypass trust is and how it works. Planning of the bypass trust depends on the estate value and the estate tax that you want your spouse or beneficiaries to pay. If with the bypass trust the tax exemptions can be lowered then you must go for it. But if you don’t have many assets to pass on then it may not be as useful. Now you know what is a bypass trust and it will help you in to plan your will or estate plan in a better way.