Offshore asset protection trusts double as excellent estate planning tools. They are typically tax neutral. When creating structures for our consulting clients here at International Wealth we often use a combo of both the Nevis offshore trust and Nevis LLC as its subsidiary or underlying company.
This Nevis asset protection combo structure checks lots of boxes on the list of goals and objectives of international investors or those who are looking to go offshore. It’s a particularly powerful wealth protection and offshore banking tool.
A lot of clients have asked us “How much does it really cost to set up a Bulletproof Offshore Trust Structure and Bank Account?”. We will answer that question in this article. Of course, individual situations and needs vary, as do specific costs for each solution. The fees in this article are intended to give you an idea as to what you can expect to see and what is reasonable.
It’s important to point out that here we are covering a COMPLETE TURNKEY STRUCTURE. The fees include everything needed including accounting services, bank account etc. Yes, it maybe that you can find someone on the internet willing to sell you a Nevis LLC for $900… but common sense should dictate that the cheapest is not always the best. DIY asset protection is not generally advisable!
This article includes the fees and basic details for the following services:
- A Nevis International Exempt Trust
- International Asset Protection Package (Nevis LLC)
A Nevis Trust as your Offshore Nest Egg
One of the main reasons why so many successful individuals are drawn to offshore trusts is strong asset protection. With an offshore trust such as a Nevis International Exempt Trust, the trust’s grantor can also be one of the trust’s beneficiaries. And unlike a domestic trust, a grantor-beneficiary of an offshore trust can still protect the trust’s assets from people who would want to grab them.
You can strengthen your legal asset protection at the stroke of a pen! Just by setting up a trust in the right offshore jurisdiction. You should choose an offshore destination for your trust that has laws that are favorable for foreign investors. Also, you want to choose a nation with laws that do not bow easily to foreign demands, like the laws in the United States or the UK for example.
Although nearly every other country has laws that are less favorable to judgment creditors than the U.S., the most extreme bulletproof asset protection jurisdictions in the world are known to be only two: the Cook Islands, and Nevis. If you have a valid trust in these countries, it will be difficult and costly for any foreign creditor to reach those assets and seize them. In most cases, a foreign lawyer will not even pursue a case if you have your assets safely stored in an offshore trust. That’s especially true if the lawyer is working on a “no win, no fee” basis. Even if the lawyer does persist, the foreign trust will give you enormous leverage to negotiate a settlement for a small fraction of any judgment against you.
If Nevis and the Cook Islands are the best, how to choose? Frankly, costs are similar, and we recommend them both – but we are more comfortable working with Nevis for a number of reasons. Mainly it has to do with the fact that we have a strong, well established relationship with one of the main trust companies on the island of Nevis. This “hand and glove” relationship mean we can get the process done there smoothly and quickly and then get a bank account opened quickly.
Some of our clients like to use both these top jurisdictions: for example a Nevis trust structure and a Cook Islands bank account, or a Cook Islands based protector within a Nevis offshore trust.
1. Nevis International Trust
The trust provides very strong asset protection against speculative creditors, greedy ex-business partners and ex-spouses, etc. There is no public registry of Nevis trusts: as such, a Nevis International Exempt Trust provides more than sufficient confidentiality and privacy for 95% of our trust clients’ needs.
Below you will find a typical quote for our basic Trust Services. Please note that the quote includes personalized drafting advice from our trust lawyer, who will assist you with the drafting of the Trust Deed to ensure you have the best protection and your asset protection objectives are met.
|Services||Setup||Annual maintenance retainer|
|Nevis Trust Acceptance Package:|
a) Registration fee
b) Due Diligence fee
c) Registry filing fee
d) Registered Agent and Office fee
e) Preparation of annual financial statements based on the structure contemplated in this proposal.
f) Gift statement or transfer placing assets on balance sheet
g) Services of our private trustee company to serve as trustee and carry out the documentation keeping functions of a trustee with all standard due memorandum and record keeping
h) Drafting of trust deed by specialist Trust Lawyer based on your questionnaire and/or a video meeting.
i) Courier Services
This is payable after the first year and is normally billed to the trust fund.
What’s not included:
- An additional responsibility fee may be charged where the assets in the trust substantially exceed US$5 million.
- Disbursements such as fees charged by banks, notaries, courier fees, etc after the initial set-up.
- Costs of audit if required by the client.
- Any extraordinary services not previously discussed or identified above including but not limited to: adding future companies under the trust in the future, opening additional bank or brokerage accounts, adding further assets, or additional accounting, tax reporting services for other countries, dealing with new bank or legal requirements in the future etc. We can either agree a package fee at the time additional services are required, or by default, hourly rates are billed for additional services:
– Management Staff $250 – 350
– Administrative Staff $60 – 150
Process & Timing
Setting up a Trust correctly typically takes from 2-3 weeks, to complete in full. It requires communication, persistence and patience – the International Wealth team will guide you through the process, working with a professionally qualified trust and asset protection expert.
Please note that the time frames given in this proposal are estimates, as most depend on how fast you can provide us with the documents and information the trustee and banks request.
2. The Nevis LLC as an Underlying Company
The trust will hold 100 % shares in a Nevis Limited Liability Company, known as the “underlying company.” This company adds another level of protection and will be the operating “visible” arm of the structure that will hold bank and brokerage accounts etc. The trust itself won’t need a bank account, as it operates through the LLC.
|LLC & Bank Account||Prices||Renewals|
|• Certificate of Organization|
• Articles of Organization
• Operating agreement
• Appointment of the First Manager being the Corporate Trustee
• Register of Managers
• Register of Members and Capital Contributions
• Ownership Certificate
• Opening of bank account including provision of all necessary documents.
• Basic book-keeping services, up to 5 transactions per month, and preparation of annual financial statements, and presentation of FS to trustee.
What’s not included:
Disbursements such as fees charged by banks, notaries, courier fees, etc after the initial set-up. Costs of audit if required by the client. Any extraordinary services not previously discussed or identified above including but not limited to: opening additional bank or brokerage accounts, or additional accounting, tax reporting services for other countries, dealing with new bank or legal requirements in the future etc. We can either agree a package fee at the time additional services are required, or by default, hourly rates are billed for additional services:
– Management Staff $250 – 350
– Administrative Staff $60 – 150
Due Diligence Requirements
Under Nevis law and international best practice, all the parties involved are required to conduct due diligence for onboarding of new clients and make sure we abide by all applicable “Know Your Client” policies.
For this we need to have documentation on file proving in principle four things:
- The identity of our client (name, citizenship etc)
- The usual residential address of our client.
- That the client is a reputable person and has earned his or her wealth legally.
- That the source of the funds actually deposited or managed in the structure is legitimate.
For this we will generally need the documentation listed below. If for some reason it is impossible to provide certain documents, it may be possible to accept other documents in their place. It may also be possible to start work on the file before all documents are in place, subject to an agreement to provide them in due course.
- Color passport copy (data/photo/signature pages), notarized
- Color copy of second identification (driver’s license, government issued ID, etc.)
- Copy of one utility bill or bank statement that shows the physical address of the applicant (cannot be older than 3 months)
- One bank reference
- One professional or commercial reference, preferably from a lawyer or accountant.
- Brief CV/resume or LinkedIn profile
- NB: You will also need to sign various documents such as Nevis KYC forms, Belize banking application forms and of course the trust deed itself that we will present to you at the next stage.
Every settlor, trustee and beneficiary should provide the above-mentioned documents.
Once the documents have been submitted it take 2-3 business days for our compliance team to verify the information and documents provided. If everything is in order the company is registered and the corporate documents are drafted (an additional 3-5 business days).
Once again, the LLC package includes a basic corporate bank account and we will provide the bank with certified copies of all the documents they need, at no extra charge.
Can you trust the trustee?
When setting up a trust, of course there is some trust involved. Just as when choosing a bank, you should choose your trustee very carefully. How can you be sue that that this Nevis trustee will comply with your instructions and won’t run away with your money?
Honestly, the trust company we work with has been providing this kind of service to hundreds or even thousands of other trusts for decades or, in some cases, hundreds of years. If you choose such a large and respected trust institution for your offshore trust, then your real risk is really non-existent. And, if you hire an independent protector to oversee your trustee on your behalf, then your risk is virtually zero.
Of course, you can tweak this package if you wish. Maybe you don’t need the bank account – maybe instead you would like a brokerage account or a crypto trading account, which could simplify matters. Maybe you could upgrade from a Caribbean bank account to a Swiss private banking account.
All in all there are lots of options, and the purpose of this article was simply to give you an idea of the REAL LIFE costs involved in setting up an effective asset protection trust structure today. To discuss your personal requirements, feel free to reach out to our experts via e-mail, or book a Zoom consultation based on your individual circumstances. Initials consultations are always free at International Wealth.