Offshore Trusts are also known as Asset Protection Trusts.
These trusts are quite popular among the rich because they shield assets from creditors, from litigation, from bankruptcy and from divorce. Many have been known to use them for tax evasion as well.
When a person is really committed to personal privacy and asset protection, many stand by the Offshore Trust as the only way to go to ensure a sound financial plan.
In the case of a Offshore Trust, even though the trust itself is established in an offshore jurisdiction, typically the assets will remain in the United States. Those assets will be under the control of the person establishing the trust, although that control will be an indirect control, rather than a direct control.
Typically, that is done by making the assets untouchable for a period of years, and making the trust itself irrevocable for that same period of time, so that the person who established the trust is not a beneficiary. During that period of time the person who established the trust—also known as a grantor—is unable to access the assets, but then neither are the creditors.
Once the risk to the assets is gone, again, from creditors, from litigation, from bankruptcy and from divorce, then the Offshore Trust is terminated and the entirety of the undistributed assets of the trust are returned to the trustor. At that time, the trustor once again gains direct control over the assets.
To help you decide if asset protection might be for you see if you fit any of the following. You want to discourage “deep pocket” litigation; you have pension assets and you’re looking to protect them, as they are otherwise un-protectable; you want to ensure the ownership of assets is absolutely confidential; you’re getting married and considering an alternative to traditional pre-nuptial agreements.
If you answered “yes” to one or more of those questions, an Offshore Trust might be for you. Speak to a qualified estate-planning lawyer to discuss if setting one up seems like the right move.
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