International Asset Protection
Considered the gold standard in asset protection planning, the foreign asset protection trust has withstood the test of time. While not appropriate for every client in every situation, an international trust offers maximum flexibility and security for a range of assets. Moreover, international trust clients enjoy access to prestigious financial institutions in such leading jurisdictions as Switzerland, Monaco, and Singapore.
For an overview of the tools and strategies we use to create an international asset protection plan, please visit our Planning Tools page.
International Asset Protection Planning... By the People Who Wrote the Law
Members of our staff include a world-renowned jurist who served as the primary or contributing author to asset protection trust and LLC legislation in Belize, the Cook Islands, and Nevis, as well as trust and LLC legislation in several American states. He also served as managing director of the largest international asset protection trust company, advising lawyers and their clients worldwide on proper plan design, implementation, and maintenance.
Working with the Leading Jurisdictions for Asset Protection Planning
While each of these countries is known for formidable asset protection laws, each jurisdiction offers its own unique advantages. We help you to understand the distinctions and select the ideal jurisdiction to best serve your expectations.
This Central American member of the British Commonwealth offers perhaps the most protective legislation available anywhere in the world.
The LLC and trust laws in this Caribbean country are the most up-to-date and innovative to be found.
Located in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands were the first to introduce asset protection trust legislation.
As the banking center of the world, Switzerland offers private banking services that are second to none. The Speiser Law Firm has established relationships with Swiss trust companies, banks, and investment advisors to provide superior service for asset protection clients. Switzerland is also a signatory to the Hague Convention on Trusts, enabling clients to avail themselves of the Swiss Hybrid Trust.
The Swiss Hybrid Trust
Swiss law permits a client settling a trust with a Swiss trustee to choose the trust law of any number of jurisdictions offering comprehensive asset protection trust laws. The trust agreement may reinforce this by providing a forum selection clause for disputes, and a seat for trust administration, in an asset-protective jurisdiction. By fusing Swiss trust law with the powerful asset protection laws of a jurisdiction such as Belize, Nevis, or the Cook Islands, the resulting “Swiss Hybrid Trust” constitutes an asset protection vehicle unattainable in any one jurisdiction alone.
Among our staff is the jurist who, while serving as managing director for a Swiss trust company, developed the Swiss Hybrid Trust. Since this technique was first innovated, Swiss case law has developed to favorably support the fundamental underpinnings of the Swiss Hybrid Trust.
Is It Expensive to Go Offshore?
Generally, it costs more to implement an asset protection plan outside the United States. However, many of the protections offered with an offshore plan are simply unattainable in any form domestically. We work with our clients to evaluate and balance the costs and benefits of going offshore.
Is There a Net Worth Threshold to Qualify for Offshore Planning?
While there is no requirement that your net worth be above a certain amount to go offshore, the added cost of maintaining an international structure may influence your decision. If litigation is not imminent, you may find it more economical to maintain assets in a domestic structure while utilizing the offshore plan as a safety valve for emergencies. While there may be other legal issues to consider, most clients would probably not consider funding an offshore structure with less than $500,000 in stocks, bonds, or other liquid assets.
What Is the Best Jurisdiction for Offshore Planning?
Many promoters with a financial interest will advocate for their favored jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the simple fact is that there is no single "perfect" jurisdiction: Each country offers its own unique set of advantages, and the ideal jurisdiction for one client may not be the best solution for another client. The countries that we work with all feature strong, battle-tested asset protection laws designed to ensure favorable outcomes.
Is An International LLC Better Than An International Trust for Asset Protection?
In our opinion, it is not helpful to describe one type of entity as "better" than another. International LLCs and international trusts are different entities, each with their own advantages. LLCs are specifically designed to accommodate business and investments, whereas trusts are best used to achieve family wealth planning and succession goals.
If I set up an international structure, do my assets have to be held outside the United States?
No. The situs of your asset protection plan is different from the location of your assets. Whether you choose to move assets offshore –and what type of assets you move – is a distinct consideration which we help you to determine. Certain assets, such as real estate or an operating business, cannot possibly be moved offshore. We therefore recommend to our clients that they consider the situs of their asset protection plan and the location of their assets as two different issues to be evaluated in close coordination.
Can I gain protection offshore while keeping my assets close to home?
Yes. The most popular international asset protection plans are those that entail minimal disruption, enabling you to keep your assets close to home while implementing a resilient offshore structure.