Belize, country located on the northeast coast of Central America. Belize, which was known as British Honduras until 1973, was the last British colony on the American mainland. Its prolonged path to independence was marked by a unique international campaign (even while it was still a British colony) against the irredentist claims of its neighbor Guatemala. Belize achieved independence on September 21, 1981, but it has retained its historical link with the United Kingdom through membership in the Commonwealth.
Belize is often thought of as a Caribbean country in Central America because it has a history similar to that of English-speaking Caribbean nations. Indeed, Belize’s institutions and official language reflect its history as a British colony. However, its culture is more typical of that of other Central American countries. Belize’s small population is ethnically diverse and includes a large proportion of immigrants. Since the 1970s, migration has shifted Belize’s ethnic composition from a predominantly Creole (mixed African and British descent) population to one in which mestizos (in Belize, people of mixed Mayan and Spanish ancestry) make up half of the total inhabitants. Belize has one of the most stable and democratic political systems in Central America. After its original capital, Belize City, was ravaged by a hurricane in 1961, a new capital, Belmopan, was built inland, about 50 miles (80 km) west of Belize City, which remains the country’s commercial and cultural centre as well as its most populous city.
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Trusts Acts 1993 (As amended)
The settlor is the person who establishes and whose assets are put into the trust. It may be either an individual or a legal entity. The settlor may also be the beneficiary of those assets and may reserve power to revoke, vary or amend the terms of the trust, make distributions and/or remove a Trustee. There may be certain protection from a subsequent bankruptcy after assets are gifted to the trust
Trustees are natural or legal persons who hold the title to the assets and manage the trust, but they cannot benefit from it.
The trustee may be an individual or a company that is permitted to be a trustee by its jurisdiction of incorporation. No domestic trustee is required, although a Belize International Trust does require a Belize resident and licensed Trust Agent. A trustee may also be a settlor, a beneficiary, or a protector of the trust.
Custodian trustees are not permitted.
Beneficiaries are those who get benefit from the trust. Beneficiaries may be individuals or corporate bodies. The Settlor may also be named as the Beneficiary. The Trust may also be created for charitable purposes.
There are specific provisions to prevent beneficiaries from draining the trust of its assets and spending in a thrifty way. Trusts in Belize allows avoiding both probate and forced heirship rules.
A protector is not a mandatory party to all Trusts, but may be appointed by the Settlor. The function of the Protector is to supervise the Trustee, thus providing additional assurances to the Settlor that the trust assets are properly managed. The Protector may have the power to remove or replace the Trustee. The function of the Protector may be undertaken by the Settlor or the Beneficiary or a third party.
The document that sets out the terms upon which the trustee shall manage the trust. The Deed of Trust is not registered or filed with the government.
The names of the settlers and the beneficiaries are not included in the registration document that is required.
|Protection from foreign Judments|
The Trusts Law does provide provisions to ignore and not enforce judgments. The Hague Convention on Trusts does not apply in Belize.
|Protection from creditors|
The Trusts law does not repeal the Statute of Elizabeth, so transfers by the settlor to the trust may be set aside if the settlor transferred the property before the debt arose. The creditor must prove the fraudulent transfer of assets to the trust, which is clearly defined by the law. Creditors’ claims may be brought jointly. If a fraudulent transfer is proven, the trust may be declared invalid.
|Protection for immigrant trusts|
Trusts that migrate from other jurisdictions do not benefit from retroactive protection.
The maximum duration of a Belize trust is 120 years, except for a trust for exclusively charitable purposes, which can be of unlimited duration.
Registration is required, but the trust deed is not registered or filed with the government. The Register of Trusts is not open for public inspection and is protected by confidentiality provisions of the law.
A trustee shall keep accurate accounts and records of the trustee’s trusteeship.
There are no reporting requirements for a trust in Belize, provided that all beneficiaries are resident outside Belize and no asset situated in Belize is held.
A trust established in Belize may not be subject to local taxes applicable to the assets and income of the trust, provided that no residents of Belize benefit from the trust and no physical assets are located there.
It must be noted that the choice of law of the trust would not be applicable to tax matters, which would be governed by the respective jurisdiction where the settlor, beneficiaries, assets or trustee are located, as applicable.
You should consult with your tax advisor or accountant to know the tax implications in your jurisdiction of residence when establishing a trust in Belize, transfer assets to it and receive profits from said assets.
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