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The Best Protection in the World


For high-net worth individuals, their families and their professional advisors looking to implement a wealth management plan, the Cook Islands international financial services sector has become an unrivalled ‘go-to’ proposition.

The associated infrastructure within the Cook Islands is marked by the rule of law being upheld by the judiciary and a rich body of reputable and experienced professional service practitioners.

The Cook Islands International Trust acts as the mothership product and has ensured this Pacific jurisdiction has become a leader in the preservation and protection of wealth since the initial legislation was enacted some forty years ago.

“In an exciting recent development, the Cook Islands International Relationship Property Trust (IRPT) has been introduced into the suite of products.”

Subsequent legislative amendments mean the Cook Islands has stayed one step ahead of the game with pioneering and innovative wealth management solutions that align with the international political and economic mores of the day, yet fundamentally serve to protect assets. Testament to this is that others have sought to ape the ground-breaking approach which sees trustees’ capacity to successfully fulfil their duty to preserve and protect trust assets enhanced. The narrative here is that the Cook Islands has created the legislative conditions whereby wealth can be protected from those who attempt to take it by force, litigation or legislation, whether through illegal, unethical or immoral means.

A particularly noteworthy enhancement to the original trust legislation was introduced in 1989, with the most significant and pivotal provisions contained in section ‘13B’. It determines when a settlement of assets upon a Cook Islands International Trust may be deemed not to be fraudulent, as well as introducing limitation periods regarding any action or proceeding to seek relief or remedy, in addition to detail on what proof must be brought. It served and continues to serve to cement the Cook Islands’ reputation for robust asset protection that is both world-leading and fully compliant with the prevailing international winds of the day.

In an exciting recent development, the Cook Islands International Relationship Property Trust (IRPT) has been introduced into the suite of products. It constitutes a tool that can provide certainty for couples in a relationship regarding the management of property in the event of separation, ensuring one or other spouse is not disadvantaged, nor the children of the relationship in question. Early signs are that it is set to be extremely well received by the market.

Meanwhile, another integral part of the Cook Islands portfolio of wealth planning tools comes in the form of the Cook Islands Limited Liability Company (CILLC). Known for its flexible nature, ability to afford certainty and enhanced protection, it appeals to an international client base looking for the optimum way to structure and manage wealth when holding, managing and investing assets, where domestic alternatives simply do not meet their needs.

For some ten years now, the Cook Islands has also provided foundations as a wealth management tool. These serve to combine elements of both international trusts and international companies to create a hybrid wealth planning vehicle marked by ease of administration and flexibility. Significantly, it is also recognised in both common as well as civil law jurisdictions, which explains why it has proved so popular with Chinese clients.

With a distinct legal personality, unlike a trust, a foundation is able to hold and own assets and take court proceedings, with powers exercised by its council. Equally, it differs from a company in having no shareholders.

Captive Insurance
Over the last decade, the Cook Islands has also developed its reputation as an Asia-Pacific hub for establishing and administering captive insurance structures. This self-insurance approach, which affords the opportunity to reduce costs, increase cash flow, access reinsurance markets directly and insure risks that may not otherwise be insurable, ensures organisations can better exercise control over the likes of premium levels, policy content, risk assessment and what use unused funds in the premium pool are put to.

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