Succession planning is often cited by wealthy individuals as one of their principal concerns.
Passing assets on to the next generation in a responsible and tax-efficient manner can be difficult. These problems can also be further exacerbated by holding assets in a number of different jurisdictions around the world.
The institutions with whom we work can help you create a range of bespoke structures such as trusts and foundations in order to make this process easier. It is also possible for you to benefit from global custodian services and this can allow you to hold your worldwide assets indirectly, making it easier for them to be passed on should something happen to you.
This is often the most common reason for clients to utilise a Trust. The avoidance of Probate can mean a saving in time, money and paperwork. A Trust will allow your beneficiaries to bypass the lengthy process of going through the courts to determine the correct distribution of assets. This process can, in some instances, take up to two years for multi-jurisdictional assets and can cost as much as 5% of the estate value in legal fees. Apart from the time and cost, very often the majority of the assets are frozen until the Grant of Probate has been given, with the beneficiaries having little or no access to these funds until that time.
A correctly structured Trust can mean the mitigation or avoidance of Inheritance or Death Taxes for some nationalities.
As long as a Trust is established in good faith, it is very hard for anyone to contest the distribution of assets. This could be particularly pertinent when former spouses who believe they have a claim on your estate are involved, for example.
Also, with a correctly structured Trust, the assets may not be “attacked” by a creditor or plaintiff should there be a legal claim on the assets.
Since Trusts do not go through Probate, there is generally no public record made of them or the distributions and therefore your assets and who benefits from them are kept private. This may be important for anybody who values their privacy and does not want details of their wealth to be made public.
Through a carefully prepared “Letter of Wishes”, the Settlor can clearly define who can benefit from the Trust Estate and under what conditions. It may be determined, for example, that an 18-year old son is entitled to a substantial part of the fund but that it can only be used for certain purposes (such as property purchase) or paid in smaller payments over a period of time or on achieving certain milestones. This means that the Settlor retains full control of his estate during his lifetime but can rest assured that the Trustees will maintain his wishes regarding the correct distribution of assets, even after death.
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