The trust can trace its existence back to early English common law and the English courts of chancery. Originally the English jurisprudence system consisted of two separate courts, courts at law and at equity. The chancery courts were courts at equity that administered equitable relief to the plaintiff. Over the course of many years the trust developed into a remarkably flexible document.
The genius behind the creation of a trust is the concept that one party, the trustee, holds title for the benefit of another party, the beneficiary. The concept was that the trustee holds the legal title and the beneficiaries hold the equitable title. The division of the legal and equitable titles forms the basis of many trust law decisions over the centuries.
Just as a key is necessary to start a car engine, the key to getting a trust started and running is the transfer of the title to the trustee. An inter vivos, or living trust, is an extremely popular and effective estate planning document and for many, forms the foundation of their estate plan.