What is a trust account?
A trust account is a legal arrangement in which the grantor allows a third party, the trustee, to manage assets on behalf of the beneficiaries of the trust. A trust can provide legal protection for your assets and make sure those assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Once the trust has been established, an investment account can be created. Although the beneficiaries hold the right to benefit from the trust, they have no authority to act on behalf of the trust assets.
Things you should know before you get started
You'll need $3,000 to buy most Vanguard mutual funds, though there are some with lower or higher minimums.*
And you can invest in any ETF (exchange-traded fund) for the price of 1 share, which will vary throughout the day.
Other companies' funds may have different minimums, so be sure to check their prospectuses. And like ETFs, minimums for individual stocks, certificates of deposit (CDs), and bonds are based on their current market prices.
Your investment earnings—the money your money makes—will likely be taxed at the federal, state, and sometimes local levels. The tax rate depends largely on your income and how long you hold the investment.
You could shrink that tax bill by choosing tax-efficient investments.
Trying to find the fastest road to riches could put your hard-earned savings at risk just as quickly.
Particularly when making a shorter-term investment—less than 7–10 years, for example—you'll want to choose the combination of bonds and stocks that strikes the right balance between risk and reward.
Some investments have obvious costs—like trading commissions and service fees. But keep a keen eye on expense ratios too. While they don't show up on your statement as a debit, they can take a serious bite out of your savings.
At Vanguard, you'll enjoy no commission to trade ETFs, stocks, and Vanguard mutual funds online. Our account service fees are easily avoidable,** and our expense ratios are 83% less than the industry average.† Put it all together, and you keep more of your money in your account, where it belongs.
The annual operating expenses of a mutual fund or ETF (exchange-traded fund), expressed as a percentage of the fund's average net assets. It's calculated annually and removed from the fund's earnings before they're distributed to investors, directly reducing investors' returns.
An expense ratio includes management, administrative, marketing, and distribution fees. It doesn't include trading or sales commissions, loads, or purchase or redemption fees.
Open a trust account in just 4 steps
It's easy to open a trust account online, and it takes just a few minutes.
Legally establish your trust
For trust accounts, you’ll need to consult with an attorney to draft the details of your trust. Ensure this step is completed before starting your application; otherwise, we won’t be able to open your trust account. Once you have your official trust documents, create a digital copy of them to include with the application.
Complete your application online
- Log in to your Vanguard account and follow the instructions to open a trust account.
Note: If you’re a new client, call us at 877-662-7447.
- Have these 3 required items on hand:
- A legally established trust with your attorney.
- A completed trust account application, including personal information of the trustees, the type of trust, the date of the trust, and the trust’s tax identification number.
- Supporting legal trust documents (as detailed below).
- Attach copies of relevant supporting legal trust documents. As part of federal regulatory requirements to prove your trust is established and in good standing, we need copies of pages from the legal documents used to establish the trust. Don’t include the entire trust document, only the relevant pages (usually the first and last) containing the following information.
- For a trust under agreement:
- The trust’s name and date.
- The current trustees’ names.
- All signature pages of the trust document.
- For a trust under will:
- The creation of the trust.
- The trustees’ names.
- The testator’s (decedent’s) signature.
- Evidence that the will was filed with the probate court (e.g., a court stamp, a copy of the letters testamentary, or the court document appointing the trustees).
- Special circumstances that require additional documents:
- Successor trustees: If the trust ownership is being/has passed to you from someone else, provide additional documentation as to why the original/current trustee is no longer acting (i.e., death certificate, letter of incapacitation).
- Sub-trust (e.g., marital trust, bypass trust, or generation-skipping trust): If this type of trust is being created underneath or because of an existing trust, include relevant pages from the trust documents that include the provision outlining the creation of the sub-trust and trustees’ names.
- For a trust under agreement:
Note: Once we receive your completed application, it will take 5 business days to review, process, and open your account. Your request will be delayed if you don’t include all the requested documents and information.
Fund your account
If it's coming from your bank, provide your bank account and routing numbers for an electronic transfer or your bank name and wire date for a wire transfer.
If it's coming from another investment company …
Select your investments
Choose from more than 150 Vanguard mutual funds and 70 Vanguard ETFs®.
You can also complement your portfolio with funds and ETFs from hundreds of other companies, as well as individual stocks, CDs, and bonds.
*Minimum initial investment requirements for most mutual funds range from $1,000 to $100,000 depending on the fund and the share class, but some may be higher. Details are provided in each fund profile.
**There's no annual account service fee if you sign up to receive statements and other important documents electronically or if you have at least $50,000 in qualifying Vanguard assets. Otherwise, a $20 fee is charged annually for all Vanguard Brokerage Accounts, as well as for each individual Vanguard mutual fund holding with a balance lower than $10,000.
†Vanguard average expense ratio: 0.10%. Industry average expense ratio: 0.57%. All averages are asset-weighted. Industry averages exclude Vanguard. Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc., as of December 31, 2019.
You must buy and sell Vanguard ETF Shares through Vanguard Brokerage Services (we offer them commission-free) or through another broker (which may charge commissions). See the Vanguard Brokerage Services commission and fee schedules for limits. Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable directly with the issuing fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. ETFs are subject to market volatility. When buying or selling an ETF, you will pay or receive the current market price, which may be more or less than net asset value.
Investments in Target Retirement Funds are subject to the risks of their underlying funds. The year in the fund name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the fund would retire and leave the workforce. The fund will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in a Target Retirement Fund is not guaranteed at any time, including on or after the target date.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
Tax rates will vary based on the individual and on changing tax rates. You may wish to consult a tax advisor about your situation.