The Cook Islands, the world's premier trust jurisdiction
The Cook Islands pioneered the most comprehensive offshore trust asset protection legislation. It provides unique and sophisticated legislation for asset protection and has remained the premier asset protection trust jurisdiction since 1989. A carefully constructed asset protection trust structure can provide an effective protective barrier which places assets beyond the reach of litigants, foreign courts, creditors or expropriation by foreign governments. The Cook Islands Government remains committed to the continued development of the Cook Islands as an international finance centre and works closely with the offshore financial industry.
Benefits of setting up a trust in the Cook Islands
- The Cook Islands legal system uses New Zealand judges and has well-developed trust jurisprudence and “tried and tested” trust law.
- The world’s first and most comprehensive offshore asset protection trust legislation that has been copied by other jurisdictions, but never bettered. It provides unique and sophisticated legislation for offshore asset protection.
- No forced heirship. A trust cannot be defeated by the rules of heirship in the jurisdiction of the settlor.
- No taxation in the Cook Islands for an international trust.
- Flexible estate and tax planning which allows clients to avoid probate.
- An International Trust will not be affected by a foreign bankruptcy.
- The Cook Islands does not recognise or enforce foreign judgments.
- Intent to defraud must be proved to a criminal standard-beyond reasonable doubt.
- Strict time limits for actions against trustees. The International Trusts Act prevents a plaintiff from issuing proceedings in a Cook Islands court against assets held in a trust if those assets were transferred more than 2 years before the proceedings were issued.