Trust Incorporation Overview

The use of the international trust has become increasingly imaginative and prolific and remains an important feature of estate planning and asset protection.

The Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance provides for the creation of various types of trust including Charitable Trust, Non-Charitable Trust, Spendthrift or Protective Trust and Qualified Foreign Trust. The assets and income of a Nevis International Exempt Trust are exempt from all exchange controls and all forms of taxation and stamp duty in Nevis.

To qualify as an international trust under the Nevis International Exempt Trust Ordinance, the following criteria must be met:

  • There must be at least one trustee, which can be a trust company incorporated under the Nevis Business Corporation Ordinance;
  • The Settlor and Beneficiaries must at all times be non-residents of Nevis; and
  • The trust property must not include any land situated in St Kitts and Nevis.

 There are many important asset protection features of the Nevis International Trust Ordinance including:

  1. A Nevis Trust cannot be declared void, voidable or defective by reason of any forced heirship rules of the Settlor’s domicile;
  2. The rule against perpetuities does not apply. A Nevis Trust may continue for one hundred years from the date of commencement;
  3. Foreign Judgments against the trust are not enforceable in Nevis. Any civil action to recover assets from a Nevis trust must be brought anew in the Courts of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
  4. The sole remedy available to a creditor is to allege fraudulent transfer or disposition. If the Trust is settled after the expiration of 2 years from the date of the creditor’s cause of action, it is not deemed fraudulent. In any event, a creditor seeking to set aside a transfer to a Nevis Trust must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and with clear and convincing evidence that the transfer constituted a fraudulent disposition. Moreover, a creditor must deposit with the Ministry of Finance, a security bond of US$100,000.00 before he can bring an action against a Nevis Trust;

Note that the Ordinance provides for the appointment of a Protector, who is responsible for monitoring the operations of the trust. This provision allows the Protector to ensure that the purpose of the trust is fulfilled. One of the out standing features of the Ordinance is that the same person can act as Settlor, Beneficiary and Protector. This particular aspect allows the Settlor to maintain control over the trust assets if desired.

The Proper Law of the Trust is the Law of the jurisdiction expressed by the terms of the trust; or failing that, with which the trust at the time it was created had the closer connection; or failing either, then the proper law of the trust shall be the law of Nevis.

The Ordinance also provides for there to be confidentiality with respect to the trust. Though a trust register is maintained, it only records the name of the trust and the date of settlement and is not a public document available for inspection. The only exception is where a trustee of a specific trust gives written authorization allowing the inspection of the entry of that trust on the register. However, AML/CFT Regulations mandate that the Registered Agent responsible for the registration of that trust is under an obligation to maintain accurate and updated information on their customers and third parties on behalf of whom the customer is acting. This includes information on the settlor and beneficiaries of the trust. Additionally, the Ordinance provides that all non-criminal judicial proceedings relating to the trust shall be heard in private and that no details may be published without leave of the court.

Incorporation Procedure

  • 1. The prescribed fee
  • 2. Notice of the name and registered office of the Trust
  • 3. Undertaking that Trust document has been read and it conforms with NIETO
  • 4. Name of the Trustee – one of the trustees has to be a corporation incorporated under the NBCO or a trust company doing business in Nevis
  • 5. A certificate from a trustee company, a barrister or solicitor certifying:
    I. That the trust upon registration will be an international trust
    ii. The date on which the Trust was created, settled or established
    iii. In the case of a qualified foreign trust, the law under which the trust was settled
    iv. Where the governing law is changed to the law of Nevis, that the trust is registered as a qualified foreign trust and the date of its registration
    v. (a) There has been no changes made to the International Trust
    (b) There is no illegal activity perpetuated by the Trust and/or
    (c) Pending litigation against the Trust

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