To what extent are assets in offshore trusts sheltered from claims made under other jurisdictions’ laws against settlors, beneficiaries, trustees or trust property? Many offshore jurisdictions have experienced challenges drafting effective and appropriate firewall legislation” . Consequently, many jurisdictions have recently updated key aspects of their firewall legislation. In contrast, the concept of asset protection trusts and fraudulent transfer legislation may have received less attention recently. From the perspective of Bermuda, this article considers factors relevant to protecting trust property from creditors’ claims and further examines how conflict of laws rules work and the competing policy considerations and practical realities that offshore legislatures weigh up when developing conflict of laws rules applicable to trusts.

WHAT IS AN ASSET PROTECTION TRUST?

A trust is not a legal person. An express trust is a fiduciary relationship whereby a person, the settlor, transfers property a trustee to hold and apply for the benefit of one or more persons or purposes in accordance with the trust’s terms.

There is no legal definition of an asset protection trust under the law of Bermuda or in most other jurisdictions. An asset protection trust may be described as an express trust with specific terms that aim to protect the trust property from claims brought against the trust’s settlor or beneficiaries. The asset protection qualities of the trust may also be influenced by the conflict of laws rules under the governing law of the trust.

However, asset protection is rarely the sole reason why a person might wish to form a trust. Arguably, the overriding reason why trusts remain attractive to private clients is the flexibility that they provide for long term succession planning.

Most jurisdictions permit trusts to last for many years. Aside from trusts over Bermuda land, Bermuda law trusts established on or after 1 August 2009 can have an indefinite duration if the trust instrument permits it. As people are living longer, problems increasingly arise when individuals lose mental capacity and are for example, unable to exercise or properly exercise voting or other rights in relation to their assets, which may include controlling shareholdings in the family business. Serious delays may occur in circumstances where an individual’s vote is required before the business can enter into an important transaction.

Type

Insight

Locations

Bermuda

Share
Twitter LinkedIn Email Save as PDF
More Publications
29 Jun 2022

Bermuda’s legal system

Through an elected Bar Council, the Bar Association — in conjunction with the Supreme Court Judici...

29 Jun 2022

Avoid These 3 Common NDA Drafting Mistakes

It is difficult to think of a transaction that doesn’t begin with a confidentiality or non-disclos...

28 Jun 2022

Bermuda: a restructuring destination

Bermuda has an outsized, first-class insurance and financial sector, attracting complex, multination...

Contributors: James Batten
27 Jun 2022

Insurtech ILS and the New Normal

As Bermuda and the global markets with which the Island transacts move towards the so-called  ‘ne...

Contributors: Josephine Noddings
23 Jun 2022

Digital Assets in a Crypto Winter

In 2013, IT engineer James Howells was cleaning out his house. He had two identical hard drives: one...

Contributors: James Batten
22 Jun 2022

Bloomberg Tax Country Guide: Bermuda

Bloomberg Tax Country Guides provide overviews of the tax regimes of more than 200 jurisdictions. Th...

Contributors: Ashley Bento
9 Jun 2022

Bermuda’s long-term re/insurance landscape

Bermuda’s long-term re/insurance market has grown considerably in recent years. The island now has...

2 Jun 2022

Provisional Liquidation In Bermuda

Provisional liquidation in Bermuda is a distinctive, flexible regime that operates to support compan...

Contributors: James Batten
23 May 2022

The good life: Bermuda’s new economic pillar

The life sector has moved swiftly from being a new ‘nice-to-have’ in the Bermuda marketplace, to...

5 May 2022

Restructuring of (Re) Insurers during Covid-19

Restructuring involves changing the financial, operational, legal or other structures of a business ...