Offshore trusts are designed to be hard to examine, including when they feature in divorce. That does not stop English Courts doing so.
The typical offshore arrangement nominates a trustee, often managed by a corporate trustee based say in the Channel Islands, or Isle of Man, or Gibraltar. Because the concept of a trust is unique to English and Scottish law and countries that derive their law from England and Scotland, they are not usually based in countries such as Liechtenstein or Andorra. However there other entities may be used e.g. an Anstalt.
Then assets are put into the trust to shelter the income and capital gain from domestic taxes, and potentially, from claims by disaffected spouses. Often the trust can serve a dual purpose.
Often, the true beneficial owner of the assets is hidden by this device. In fact for taxation reasons often the point of the trust is to separate control of the assets from the people who are ultimately meant to benefit.
English law has long experience of examining the reality behind the trust and corporate veil. This does not mean that it rides roughshod over genuine arrangements. It does however often arrive at a pragmatic assessment of an individual’s wealth even when it is offshore.
Henry Brookman has extensive experience in this field, on both sides of the argument. His experience in complex estate planning means he has up to date knowledge of the variety of such situations.
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