Can a Trust Be a DBA?

A trust represents one of several tools used in estate planning and wealth transfer. State laws vary on the administration of trusts as well as "doing business as" entities, commonly abbreviated as DBAs. An online legal document service can provide assistance with establishing trusts and DBAs that serve your purposes and which conform to the laws of your state.

DBA Definition

An entity operating under a name other than its legal name is said to be operating under a "doing business as" or fictitious name, or DBA. A DBA is registered at the state, county or local level, depending on the state in which the DBA is located. Registration of a DBA provides the public with notification of the true identity of the person or entity operating a business that has a fictitious name. Sole proprietors often use DBAs to distinguish their business transactions from their personal affairs.

Trust Definition

Trusts take many forms and serve a variety of purposes. Assets included in a trust vary from real estate to valuable artworks to jewelery and even businesses. Nonetheless, all trusts have three primary parties: the person who creates a trust; a beneficiary, or the person or entity for which the trust is created; and a trustee, the person who administers the affairs of a trust. In some instances, all three parties are the same person. In other cases, such as a living trust, the trust creator administers the trust until she dies, after which the trustee is given the responsibility of distributing the assets of the trust to named beneficiaries.

Trusts and DBAs

Whether or not a trust can be a DBA depends largely on where it is located. Some states, such as Texas, allow trusts to establish themselves as DBAs and to open bank accounts for the trust under the name of the DBA. Other states, such as Virginia, do not allow trusts to resister as DBAs. In cases where a trust acquires a DBA as part of its asset mix, the business license may be required to be modified to reflect the trust as the new owner of the DBA.the process of transferring ownership is called an assignment.

Read More: How Family Trusts Work


Businesses, including DBAs, may be included among assets owned by or contained within a trust. However, if a DBA is a sole proprietorship, the business generally does not survive the death of the sole proprietor, unless she designates someone to take over the sole proprietorship upon her death. On the other hand, partnership agreements may specify whether remaining partners may reestablish the business, or whether one or more new partners may be brought in to replace a deceased or departed partner.

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