Which law governs Guernsey Trusts?

The Trusts (Guernsey) Law, 2007

What types of Trust are available?

Discretionary Trusts, Accumulation Trusts, Non-charitable Purpose Trusts, Interest in Possession Trusts, and any combination of these (hybrids).

What is a trust?

Unlike a Company, a trust has no "legal personality" - it is not a legal entity in its own right. It is basically a contract, whereby the economic donor (settlor) gives assets to a trusted individual or company (trustee) to hold in their own name and administer for the benefit of certain others (the beneficiaries).

Why settle a trust?

The act of giving away or divesting the assets to the trustees removes legal ownership from the settlor. This has certain advantages for some taxation rules, and can help to shield assets from attack by a third party.

What type of trust is preferred for international transactions?

Discretionary trusts with beneficiaries have traditionally been used for asset protection and tax planning, but every case is different and a trust should be formulated to serve the specific needs of each case.

What are the capital requirements?

There are no legal requirements, but a trustee has to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If the asset base of a trust (corpus) is not sufficient to warrant its costs, the trustees are unlikely to accept trusteeship. Any currencies are permitted.

What can be settled into a trust?

Most things - money, investments, land, buildings, paintings, furniture, jewellery, boats, aircraft - even fine wines. Some assets will earn income, and it is usual to account differently within the trust for capital and income.

Who can be a settlor?

Most people, and corporate settlors are also allowed. However, being the settlor of a trust will often have tax implications and sight of tax advice before proceeding will be generally required.

What are the costs of a trust?

This will vary, depending on your requirements.

How are trusts created?

A trust is a contract, so it is created when the contract is entered into, usually by the signing of a Trust Deed. Trusts must meet "the three certainties": there must be an expressed wish to create the trust, there must be defined assets placed into the trust, and there must be clear objects (beneficiaries or a purpose).

Who can be the trustees?

Only a licensee (Regulated Fiduciary licence holder). The owner of the license can act as a trustee.

How long does it take to settle a trust?

This will vary with your requirements; it may be that our standard trust documents can be used, or we may need to have special clauses drafted. We find that the most common delaying factor is collecting the background information required by the Guernsey regulatory codes.

Are Corporate Trustees always used, or can individuals be trustees?

A corporate trustee of trusts can be used, but under certain circumstances there may be additional co-trustees, who may be individuals.

Are the details of the trust kept at the Guernsey Registry?

No. There is no requirement to register trusts and no central database of trusts.

What is a Protector, and should I have one?

Protectors act as an agent of the settlor with certain powers (such as the right to replace the trustees) which are defined in the trust deed. Protectors can give comfort, but if awarded too many powers they can make a trust difficult to manage. Enforcers perform a similar function for Purpose Trusts.

Is there an annual filing to the Registry?

No, Guernsey does not require trusts to be registered.

Must financial statements of a trust be prepared and audited?

The assets of trust can not be managed properly if accounting records are not maintained in due order and at high level, so it is always necessary to prepare annual financial statements. There is no requirement for audit.

Are annual accounts filed at the Registry?


Are there any exchange control or other financial restraints?


Is migration of trusts permitted?

Yes in principle, but this will depend on the terms of the trust deed. The situs (jurisdiction) of a trust is sometimes relevant to tax and asset protection planning, so legal advice should always be sought. We can arrange this for you.

Can you be the trustees of non-Guernsey trusts?

Yes, depending on the terms of the trust deed.

Are civil type Foundations available?


Are the regulators empowered to request the production of information on the identity and background of settlors and beneficiaries?

Yes, via the trustees, under certain strict circumstances.

Are the regulators empowered to request the production of accounting information on trusts?

Yes, from the trustees, under certain strict circumstances.

Can such information be exchanged with other jurisdictions?

Only upon official request or order, only where legal gateways exist, and strictly subject to the rules of those gateways.

Law&Trust International will register a trust in Guernsey for you. Highly qualified professionals will provide you with high-quality legal services and will accompany the entire fund registration process, and they are always at your service. For more detailed information, please contact our specialists.