Trusts frequently feature as an important part of a family’s inter-generational wealth and succession planning, for many diverse reasons. Fundamentally, they can be used to preserve capital and provide an income stream for current and future generations of a family.
Administering a trust has considerable responsibilities associated with it. Some of these are compliance and reporting responsibilities such as the bookkeeping of transactions, the preparation of accounts for the trust, the preparation of trust tax returns, ensuring that entries on the trust register are properly updated and that any regulatory disclosures are made accurately and on a timely basis. Other requirements are less routine. Trustees need careful guidance in making decisions about trust assets and the trust fund itself, especially where they are required to exercise their discretion in making distributions of income and capital to beneficiaries, making loans etc. A professional understanding of trust law and trustee responsibilities is crucial.
This is why we often act as trustee, either alone or alongside our clients, where trusts form part of their family succession planning. We prefer to do this through our trust corporations operated by our International Firms, since this offers flexibility and continuity (the problems and costs encountered when replacing or appointing a trustee on the retirement or death of an individual are avoided). Our Partners are experienced in dealing sensitively with the demands of a trustee’s role. They are used to dealing with the demands of multiple jurisdictions and the complex regulatory, tax and reporting requirements involved. They actively seek solutions tailored to ensure that, while the trust assets are preserved and can grow, the beneficiaries’ interests are maintained. They understand that full accountability and efficient administration are essential, coupled with an ability to deal sensitively with beneficiaries at every stage in life.
Through collaboration between the London and overseas offices, we provide a joined up suite of services in relation to international trusts and companies where the client has a UK connection. This includes advising on the potential benefits of trust arrangements in the client’s specific circumstances, calculating and monitoring trust tax pools in order to ascertain the tax treatment of benefits received by beneficiaries, constructing investment guidelines and account structures for tax efficiency, liaising with tax professionals in other countries and advising on all UK tax reporting for the trustees, the settlor and the beneficiaries.
Trusts are not appropriate for all international clients and we would only recommend them where they offer a solution. All trusts are different and great care is required to ensure that their terms meet the requirements of the clients and their families, and that the tax and succession consequences are fully considered.