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Specialism: Trustees Private Client Trustees
Location: St Helier, Jersey
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Average client size: Over £25 million
Fixed fee offering: Yes - Fixed fees for a fixed scope of services with additional fees for works outside the scope
Number of offices globally: More than 5
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Helping trust client dissatisfied with the lack of information and transparency
As a client director in private client services, I am regularly approached to take over as trustees or provider of existing structures by either the client direct or via their adviser. On this occasion, the client structure included a Liechtenstein foundation with an underlying Bahamas company and a stand-alone Liechtenstein trust. The client was very dissatisfied with their current provider over the lack of information and transparency and lack of active oversight and management.
During our due diligence process, it transpired that the incumbent trustees acted in breach of power by providing an indemnity to their predecessor trustees without proper authority to do so. Before retiring in our favour, they insisted to be indemnified by the beneficiaries despite it not being a requirement under Liechtenstein law. This resulted in an impasse on the transfer of well over six months as the beneficiaries refused.
As the principal beneficiary of the trust is a UK registered charity set up by the client in the UK, one of the solutions I suggested was to move the trust to the UK where the client and a family member could act as trustees enabling them to be in a position to provide an indemnity in their capacity as trustees, whilst being in control of the entire trust assets. Subject to tax advice, this proposal is now being seriously considered in order to get over this impasse. Whilst we would "lose" the business, given the circumstances, I believe that it is the best outcome for the client.