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Arizona, again, has some unique rules and one of them is that a beneficiary can be their own trustee. In the common law of trusts if the beneficiary and the trustee are the same there’s a merger and there’s no trust and then, of course, the creditors have free rein to execute on those assets because the trustee is holding it for the benefit of themselves. In Arizona by statute that doesn’t hold true and what you have to be careful that’s more a drafting issue than it is a recognition issue once the creditor comes. I’ve been on both sides of those stories fighting to protect the assets in the trust and also litigating when the trustee has had too much authority or the beneficiary has too much authority so that the assets of the trust are treated as if they were owned by the beneficiary and thus available to the beneficiary’s creditors.
Phoenix, AZ estate planning attorney Mark A. Bregman talks about cases he’s been a part of involving protective trusts.