These questions are purposely broad and are designed as prompts in order to coordinate your copy.
I would like you to elaborate to approximately 450-500 words total please when answering. If some questions are not relevant, feel free to leave blank, and if you feel the need to elaborate on a certain point, then you are welcome to do this.
1. Please give a brief description of your firm and the services it offers in relation to trusts and estates.
International Protector Services Ltd., IPS, is an established Cook Island company formed with the express approval of the Cook Islands International Trade Investment Board, which licenses IPS annually and remains in good-standing and compliance. IPS was created from the demands of clients, trust companies, attorneys and financial professional looking for learned and experienced representation in formation and reformation of trusts specifically to protect the trust from attacks both internally by trustee(s) and externally by creditors, beneficiaries and unknown claimants. We are the only exclusive Protector entity within the Cook Islands. We do not act as Trustees, Settlors, Administrators, Lawyers or Accountants. We only focus on the relation between the Trust and the Protector without the inherent conflicts of also acting in other capacities in the Trust; remaining independent of the Trustees, Settlors, Lawyers and Accountants. Our duties of loyalty and trust remains within the Trust Deed or Private Foundation instrument itself.
2. How does your firm distinguish itself in this area? What are its key strengths?
In planning a trust or private foundation, it is a distinct advantage to retain the services of an offshore protection company outside the jurisdiction of United States courts. We offer full protector services with experience in trust planning, trust creation, trust administration, trust protection litigation, and the asset security within the trust or private foundation. We are also knowledgeable and participated in trust litigation both in Europe and the United States.
3. Please provide an overview of the key trust structures and asset classes that are available to those pursuing such strategies in your jurisdiction.
IPS was the first advocate of Pet Trust legislation in the Cook Islands and continues to represent Pet Trusts and also Pet Private Foundations as the protector. Generally, the creation of a Pet Trust or Private Foundation has several almost insurmountable obstacles of (1) privacy from beneficiaries of a Will or Trust who may not agree with the pet owner’s intention after death or best use of decedent’s estate (2) court challenge of the pet trust or foundation being overly funded for the life and/or benefit of the intended pet and (3) privacy from the public to protect the pet from theft or ransom.
4. What types of clients do you provide services for? What jurisdictions do most of these clients come from?
Almost any international trust or private foundation requires a qualified protector. Generally, drafters of the trust or private foundation solicit our representation because of our reputation, experience, and unique judicial location of the Cook Islands which allows the protector to continue to represent the interests of the true settlor, grantor or founding member of the private foundation without being brought into the expensive and time-consuming court proceedings while continuing to accommodate changes in beneficiary circumstances and oversee the actions of the trustee or foundation members.
Most of our clientele are from the United States and the People’s Republic of China. We speak English and Mandarin.
5. What specific legal complexities are associated with trusts and estates at the international level?
Each client’s wishes are different and the applicable jurisdictions also vary. Typically, the settlor, grantor, beneficiary, foundation members, trust/foundation location, insurance company, trustee, and banking institution are all different legal jurisdictions. We have worked with over 85 different jurisdictions and this number continues to increase. However, we rely on the attorneys involved for support in these matters.
6. How can you assist with the creation of tax effective solutions for clients using Double Tax Treaties and other relevant legislation?
We have over 40 years of working with double income taxation agreements between countries as well as double inheritance and estate taxation agreements. We find many jurisdictions have far-reaching laws that give them tax rights when people inherit property from another country or where the deceased or the heir are resident, domiciled or hold nationality in another jurisdiction. Frequently, two or more countries may apply inheritance tax on the assets involved. Cross-border inheritance tax problems do not just affect individuals either; businesses can often face transfer difficulties upon the death of their owners. We are very experienced with all aspects of the benefits and burdens of these treaties and are happy to work with the client representatives to protect the assets of the trust or foundation.
UNITED STATES-THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA INCOME TAX CONVENTION
7. Have there been any significant legislative developments, either nationally or globally, that have affected trusts and estates practices recently? If so, please give details and specific the implications.
One initiative to tackle cross-border inheritance tax obstacles has been taken up by the European Commission (EC), especially now that the UK population has voted in favor of leaving the EU. Another is the increased revenue demands of the American Obama Administration from foreign wars and loss of jobs. Brexit will no doubt have ramifications on people’s pensions, property values, financial commitments, currency valuations and the ability to accumulate wealth in traditional and non-traditions methods. All three of the above situations will require an ever changing and challenging planning from holding of precious metals, collection of moveable investments, currency fluctuations, property holdings and international reporting requirements, including FBAR, exchange of tax information treaties between countries, and changes of intended beneficiaries. All of these unknowns will require a well versed and nimble-minded protectors to ensure the intentions of the trustor or foundation member be maintained while changing with the international norms.
8. Do you have any predictions relating to trusts and estates for the next 12 months?
We find that the global uncertainty of prolonged wars, elections of new leaders promising an increased focus on inheritance and wealth taxes, the rise in tax revenues form individual taxpayers have increased the personal tax burden to retain wealth and plan for leaving a legacy to their family. Even first-world countries are experiencing deeper levels of austerity and distress with a popularity of policymakers to target wealthy individuals and those benefiting from increased property values. Countries such as India, China and Russia that have seen a dramatic rise in the number of high net worth individuals have started to consider levying new individual taxes, including those on estates or inheritances, for the first time. At the same time, as people and capital become increasing mobile, the number of international inheritance disputes is on the rise. With a diverse clientele, issues of crosses borders arise and with it more complexity. Therefore, we expect a marked increase in our services to protect the client’s wishes in estate planning and to defend the assets placed or planned to be placed in trusts and private foundations.
9. Do you have any other comments?