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The Cook Island trusts
Cook Islands trusts are one of the best asset protection structures in the entire planet. They are formed under the Cook Islands International Trusts Act, which offers the strongest asset protection case law you can ever find in the whole world. A Cook Island trust is a rock-solid asset protection structure that will allow you to protect your legacy from uncertainty, creditors, and political, economic, and legal instability.
A trust located in a strong jurisdiction is the cornerstone of any effective family office structure. There are many reliable jurisdictions where to establish your trust, and the Cook Islands, along with Nevis, are among the best. Why?
- No recognition of foreign court orders.
- Creditors are forced to sue within the Cook Islands with significant difficulties to file such claims.
- Completely tax-free.
- Assets do not have to be in the Cook Islands.
- Plenty of favorable case law.
- Trust deeds are not public and are not required to be filed with the Registrar.
- Allows for different trust arrangements.
- Statute of limitations to bring action of only two years.
- The standard of proof required to prove fraudulent transfer is the same as criminal acts, meaning they must be beyond any reasonable doubt.
- Protection against foreign bankruptcy.
Best uses for a Cook Islands Trust
Cook Islands trusts are flexible structures that can be used to protect a wide array of tangible and intangible assets, such as:
- Investment portfolios
- Real estate properties
- Intellectual property
- Life insurance policies
Therefore, they can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:
- Protecting assets from economic and political uncertainty
- Estate planning
- Wealth transfer to family members
- Asset diversification
- Wealth management
- Estate tax optimization
- Retirement planning
- Protection from lawsuits and creditors
- Holding stocks
Structure of a Cook Islands trust
As usual, a Cook Islands trust has four parties:
The person who establishes the trust and whose assets are put into it.
The person(s) that manage the trust assets on your behalf. The trustee must be a Cook Island resident. The Cook Islands FSC regulates trustees. They hold the legal title of all assets within the trust, although they cannot benefit from the trust whatsoever. They become your lifesaver when a court requires you to hand over your assets because they are not subject to a court mandate.
A protector oversights the trustee’s actions over the trust. This position is optional but will give another level of protection to the trust as you will likely appoint a family member or trusted attorney.
The person(s) that will legally benefit from the trust.
Taxation of a Cook Island Trust
Cook island trusts are entirely tax-free. This means you are free from:
- Gift tax
- Estate tax
- Income tax (corporate or individual)
- Excise tax
- Capital gains tax
- Withholding tax
- Any other tax you can imagine
Establishing a Cook Islands Trust
The best part of establishing a Cook Islands trust is its flexibility. It is a legal and safe way to protect your assets from creditors and predatory authorities. To establish a trust, one of the trustees should be an international company or a Cook Islands licensed trustee, and beneficiaries must be non-residents.
You need the following documents to register a trust:
- Copy of the trust deed
- Signed execution page of the deed
Due diligence documents, including:
- Notarized copy of passport photo page
- Source of funds
- Proof of address
- Banking reference
The due diligence documents are vital to meet international AML regulations. Cook Islands trusts have not received as much international pressure as other offshore jurisdictions because they have stringent regulatory compliance rules. They keep unwanted attention far away from the islands.
You should also consider the following documents:
- Trust information form: It includes the name of the trust, the settlor, beneficiaries, and, optionally, protectors of the trust.
- Deed of indemnity: Almost anyone who sets up a Cook Islands Trust is anticipating a lawsuit. Thus, trustees are entering in a relatively high-risk clientele. Therefore, a deed of indemnity provides the trustee protection from potential lawsuits.
- Letter of wishes: This is an optional document where the settlor tells the trustee(s) his desires for the trust beyond the ones established in the deed.
- Sworn affidavit of solvency: Settlors of Cook Island trusts need to sign a sworn affidavit, regardless of who is the trustee. It must say that the settlor can meet all financial obligations arising from the trust. This protects the trustee from potential accusations of sheltering assets.
Private Trustee Company
A Cook Islands trust can be used with a Cook Islands LLC for the best protection, flexibility, tax optimization and diversification. The trust should hold the LLC with the trustee holding the title of the company. Thus, as the LLC manager, you will have legal control over it and bank accounts affiliated with the company. Therefore, you will have factual control over your assets.
Who are we, and what can we do for you?
In Mundo, we have unparalleled experience helping family offices and HNWI protecting and diversifying their assets. We work with top Cook Islands experts that can serve as your trustees, write a personalized deed for you, set up an LLC and bank account for your trust, and offer excellent wealth management and tax advice for your trust and family office. Contact us right now and establish a trust in the Cook Islands!
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