Why would someone want to hide their assets? If you are an oligarch, the answer is obvious – you don’t want a hostile foreign government freezing your bank account or seizing your super yacht or villa on Lake Como. If you are an ordinary person, you may merely want privacy and protection against third party claims.
We advise our clients about asset protection daily. If you are a person with a public profile, privacy may be a priority. If you are a business or property owner or someone with accumulated assets, limiting information about your assets may reduce your potential as a target for lawsuits and other claims as well as giving you protection from unwanted attention.
This is where trusts come into play. If you own assets in your own name, your ownership will become part of the public record. If you own property in a trust, public ownership appears in the name of the trustee of the trust, for example a corporate trustee or an individual. It is therefore possible to use a trust to obscure (although not completely hide) the ownership of assets. You can decide on the level of privacy you require.
There are lots of different types of trusts including discretionary trusts, unit trusts, testamentary trusts and self-managed super funds. Each of these trusts can be used as part of a risk minimisation strategy.
Not sure which risk minimisation strategy would suit you and your circumstances? We can provide you with advice and a clear way forward. Call us now on 1300 654 590.
For privacy and asset protection reasons we think it is legally appropriate and smart to take steps to minimise how exposed your assets are to the public. We are certainly not encouraging you to use trusts to engage in criminal activity, tax evasion or to keep assets hidden from a former spouse. Limiting information about your assets using a trust structure is just one element of a risk minimisation strategy. This is a valid legal strategy that can be effective for anyone engaging in activities that may expose them to personal risk – from young people starting small businesses, experienced business-people with an established enterprise and all the way up to high net-worth individuals with eye-watering investments.
If you want to find out more about trusts and asset protection read this article.
If you want to know more about how companies can be used as part of a risk minimisation strategy (and in fact how they originated out of a desire to encourage people to take business risks without putting everything on the line) read this article.
How we can help
Our usual clientele are not Putin’s henchmen but business owners, professional service providers, farmers, high net worth individuals and families with accumulated assets. Many of them use trusts as part of a wealth holding structure that involves personally held assets, companies and self-managed superannuation funds. Laws around these structures’ change from time to time and you should come in for a regular ‘legal check-up’ to make sure they are working at their optimal level for your purposes.