Hiring a US attorney to set up your Cook Island trust can cost up to $50,000. Our fee is always much, much less.
A Cook Islands Trust is established under the laws of the Cook Islands which is part of New Zealand. The Cook Island trust is widely considered to be the most secure trust jurisdiction on the planet and the Trust is the safest place to have a trust established anywhere, period.
The Cook Islands are tax neutral. The Cook Islands do not impose any taxes on assets that are put into your trust. The US government does require a tax return to be filed for US citizens for the trust just like in the USA, and US citizens only have to pay US taxes on income earned by the trust, if any, but that income is not taxed by the Cook Islands. There is no place on Earth to avoid taxes as a U.S. citizen. You have to pay your taxes. However, to protect your assets, there is no better place that the Cook Islands.
Potential Disadvantages of An Offshore Trust
The Cook Islands trust requires a professional manager that must be physically located in the Cook Islands which managers are monitored by well respected Cook Island government agencies. This can be a challenge to some clients since some clients may feel that if the trustees that govern the trust are not in the USA that they lose a degree of control of their assets to a distant administrator. Whenever, an American is out of the Country there can be a feeling of loss of control. In fact, a U.S. citizen has much more control of their assets through a Cook Island trust than they can ever achieve in the USA.
Having the trustees who administer what you told them to do in the trust document in the Cook Islands is no different than having your trustee company in LA if you live in New York. Just like a US trust, your assets do not have to be located in the Cook Islands, but wherever you chose.
And you can access your own international bank account the same way you have access to your local bank account in the US. You have an assigned banker, account numbers and electronic monitoring and access. The Cook Island Trustees are intensely vetted, bonded and are governed by the one of the most trusted governments in the world, and your trust protector also provides you with additional control over your trust assets. Even Forbes calls the Cook Islands the best place in the world for an asset protection trust because it has advantages found nowhere else in the world.
Another disadvantage that some clients perceive is that trusts are fairly complex and hard for people to understand because there are a lot of legal terms that have expansive meanings and definitions that take time to get one’s mind around, even for attorneys, but that fact is really a misnomer since whether it is a US trust or a Cook Island trust, it is the same – language that is foreign to most people. The verbiage in a Cook Islands Asset Protection Trust document is somewhat similar in nature to a US asset protection trust, but the Cook Island trust document has a lot more protective language in it, which, of course, is to your benefit.
The cost of maintaining the Cook Island Trust is about $5,000 to $7,000 per year. After paying to set up the trust and conveying your assets into your trust, there are some annual administration fees.
Additionally, many clients use a Nevis LLC to generate income or other assets to put into their Cook Island trust. Nevis LLC setup is about $1,000 plus $750.00 – $ 1,000.00 per year to maintain. For comparison, a Delaware LLC just for a registered agent to be listed with the secretary of state and the annual Delaware tax for the pleasure of having a Delaware LLC is $600.00 per year, but the Delaware LLC does not have the asset protection advantages of the Nevis LLC or a Cook Island LLC.
In the Cook Islands your assets are protected as soon as they are placed in a Cook Islands Trust. If anyone wants to challenge the ownership of those assets in the Trust, then they have to go to the Cook Islands and convince a Cook Islands Judge beyond a reasonable doubt why they should have access to the assets in the Cook Island Trust.
The case history of litigation and the actual law in the Cook Islands is crippling to those who want assets from a Cook Island Trust and together act as an enormous deterrent for any Plaintiff to try and fight a trust in the Cook Islands.
There is a short fuse for anyone claiming a fraudulent transfer in the Cook Islands, that being one (1) year, to two (2) year statute of limitations on fraudulent transfers. That is, one year from the time that you register and fund the trust, or two years from the cause of action (the reason for which the plaintiff filed the lawsuit from the time the event gave rise to a claim). The Cook Islands court will refuse to hear a case outside of those timelines. After these periods of time have passed, creditors are no longer able to bring legal actions to challenge the trust. That means a bankruptcy court has NO power over a Cook Island Trust outside of those transfer parameters.
Interestingly, the Nevis LLC has similar benefits business operation protection that the Cook Island Trust has for overall asset protections. There is a one year statute of limitation on claims. Nevis does not recognize US charging orders or judgements.
These are the most common questions. The bottom line is that the Cook Islands law and Nevis law provide the most powerful asset protection and business operations protection currently available to any US Citizen.