What is an offshore trust?

A trust is an agreement made to safeguard assets. Like a foundation, a trust can hold various types of assets, from bank accounts to real estate, from shares to patents.

Offshore trusts involves 3 parties

Setting up a trust involves 3 parties: settlor, beneficiary and trustee. A settlor initiates the registration of the trust and transfers the assets into it. The settlor determines how the assets are to be managed, names beneficiaries and how they shall benefit from the trust. The trustee manages the trust and receives a monthly or annual compensation. In most cases this is a percentage of the assets managed and the profits generated.

Trusts are usually set up offshore and can therefore claim tax benefits. In many set ups the assets are no longer subject to taxation once transferred.

The importance difference between a trust and a foundation is the legal structure and the management. A trust is an agreement, usually running for 99 years. Once set up it cannot be cancelled. That safeguards funds in case the settlor is sued or dies. Trusts are therefore a common instrument for asset protection of US medics. Trusts are also common to transfer assets to other people than the legal heirs. The downside is that one has to appoint and pay a trustee. Families often decide to incorporate a foundation where they can call family members to the board of officers.

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