Offshore trusts are one of the most well-known and sophisticated asset protection solutions. The best jurisdiction for offshore trusts is well regarded as the Pacific Island nation of the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands stand out as the number one destination due to their long tradition, extremely protective legislation, and favorable caselaw. For these reasons a Cook Islands Trust is well regarded as the highest level of legal protection against U.S. civil claims and creditors.
How much does a Cook Island Trust cost?
Naturally, one of the first and most pressing questions people have when considering an offshore trust is how much one normally costs. As with any other legal service, costs will vary from case to case, but these figures should provide some helpful guidance.
For the typical case the cost to establish a Cook Island Trust will be anywhere between $20,000 to $40,000 plus an ongoing yearly fee of between $5,000 and $10,000 per year. However, the fees can be as low as $10,000 to set up and $5,000 per year up to $250,000 to set up and $50,000 per year to maintain.
The main factors that go into the pricing of a Cook Island Trust:
- Amount of attorney work needed to establish the trust: The fees vary depending on the amount of work that needs to be done for each case. If your case includes a great deal of planning or you are dealing with time-sensitive constraints or an unusual set of assets, those factors can cause the costs to increase.
- Level of Potential Liability: If a trust has higher chances of being contested, chances are this will be reflected in higher fees. A trust that is more likely to be engaged in litigation in the futures often requires more meticulous planning to be better prepared for a future legal claim.
- Amount of time needed to establish the trust: If you are looking to establish your trust as fast as possible, this will also likely cause the fees to rise. The increased time pressure means attorneys and other professionals will need to put aside other work to focus exclusively on an urgent matter.
- Amount of work that needs to be carried out by offshore trustees: Much like attorneys, professional trustees also generally bill by the hour which is why the ongoing fees can also differ from case to case. If you request frequent transactions or distributions from the trust, this causes additional work for the trustees.
- The experience of your attorney: An attorney who has extensive experience in establishing offshore trusts will likely charge a premium for that experience.
What is included in the fees?
These fees include the attorney fees for setting up the trust structure, the trustee fees paid to the offshore trust company in charge of managing the trust assets, and the fees paid to the trust protector. The initial attorney fees cover the costs of drafting the legal documents, and assistance with transferring assets from your individual name over to an offshore bank account in the name of the newly created trust.
The trust protector is engaged to act as an independent third party who can act quickly in case a change of trustee needs to be carried out. Clients typically make payments for any attorney work to the law firm they are working with while the trustee and trust protector fees are paid directly to these external firms.
Are there any additional costs?
These fees do not cover any accounting, tax preparation and reporting compliance, and bank fees required by the trust. Since accounting and tax services are provided by external companies chosen by the settlor, it is difficult to predict these costs. Bank fees are paid based on a small percentage of the funds under management, so these will depend on the amount of cash and financial instruments held by the trust. These fees are generally comparable to those charged by financial advisors in the United States.
Are Cook Island Trusts more expensive than other trusts?
Establishing and maintaining a Cook Islands Trust is generally more costly than trusts set up in other jurisdictions such as the United States. In exchange, Cook Islands Trusts provide the highest level of legal protection available. The offshore trust business in the Cook Islands can be complex, so accomplished professionals are needed to help clients along the way. This includes legal services, trustee services, and administrative support.
Is a Cook Island Trust worth it?
While the answer to this question will depend on your individual situation, level of assets, and personal risk tolerance, a Cook Islands Trust can be extremely valuable for those who want a very high level of asset protection. A Cook Islands Trust can potentially shelter valuable trust assets from future creditors, lawsuits, and other legal pressures.
What are the main advantages of a Cook Island Trust?
- Trust assets and investments are protected from banks, creditors, and court orders originating from outside of the Cook Islands.
- A Cook Islands trustee is not bound by U.S. court orders.
- The Cook Islands’ legal system is considered one of the most “defendant-friendly” jurisdictions.
- If someone were to file a lawsuit in the Cook Islands, the legal burden lies on the plaintiff to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Cook Islands Trust was established with the objective to defraud, which is very difficult to prove.
- The Cook Islands Asset Protection Trust Act allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary.
- A Cook Islands Trust can protect assets even if they are located outside of the Cook Islands.
- There is flexibility in the structure of a Cook Islands Trust to fit your specific asset protection needs and investment opportunities.
- Trust documents do not have to be publicly registered in the Cook Islands.
How do I get a Cook Island Trust?
The first step in the road towards asset protection is to consult an experienced asset protection attorney. There are many decisions that go into setting up a Cook Islands Trust, so it is important to have the right counsel to provide the necessary guidance and information. Thanks to our years of experience in offshore asset protection, Blake Harris Law can guide you through the process of establishing an offshore trust.
What is the statute of limitations for a Cook Island Trust?
When you transfer your assets to a Cook Islands Trust, there is a two-year statute of limitations for a creditor to bring an action against you or the trust. The statute of limitations starts from the day of the cause of action.
What are the disadvantages of an offshore trust?
For citizens or residents of the United States, offshore trusts require several mandatory and compliance forms. Since offshore trusts are generally used to open offshore bank accounts, there is a requirement to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR). Owners of an offshore trust may also have to file additional forms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) created an additional requirement on offshore trust grantors and trustees by requiring financial institutions to report on the financial holdings and income.
Are Cook Island Trusts safe?
The Cook Islands is considered a global leader in financial services and asset protection trusts thanks to its regulatory framework and robust compliance systems. Many legal and financial experts recommend the Cook Islands Trust as the best and safest option for offshore asset protection trusts.
Attorneys often say there is no such thing as a “typical” case. There is also no single answer to the question of how much will a Cook Island Trust cost. When considering a Cook Islands Trust, it’s crucial to understand the benefits, legal requirements, and the overall costs involved. A thorough discussion with and experienced attorney can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your financial and asset protection goals. If you would like to get a personalized quote based on your specific situation, contact Blake Harris Law.