October 29, 2020 Connor Steens



setting up a cook islands trust

A Cook Islands Trust has long been considered to be the gold standard among offshore asset protection structures. Boasting significant creditor protection features, an offshore trust established in the Cook Islands enjoys the protections afforded by the Cook Islands International Trusts Act 1984, which is well-renowned for its protective components.

A Cook Islands Trust can discourage unscrupulous claims, protect your assets, and is regarded as a top-tier addition to any estate planning, asset protection, or wealth management structure. Let’s break down how Southpac can work with you to establish your own Cook Islands Trust.

The Structure

Settlor – The Settlor is the individual that establishes the Trust and places their assets into it.

Trustee – A Cook Islands Trust requires at least one trustee to be either a foreign company, an international company, or a Cook Islands licensed trustee company. This is where Southpac, the first ever licensed Cook Islands trustee, steps in. As trustee, Southpac holds the legal title to the assets placed in the trust and is required to act upon or administer those assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

Protector – The Protector is an optional position appointed by the Settlor under the terms of the Trust Deed. The Protector oversees and approves actions taken by the trustee and is often used as another layer of security.

Beneficiary – The beneficiary or beneficiaries are those that may benefit from the trust. This can include any person that the settlor wishes. Generally speaking, Beneficiaries are comprised of the Settlor and/or their family members.

The Requirements

In order to register a Cook Islands Trust, Southpac must hold appropriate client due diligence and a Trust Deed executed by all other parties to it.

Trust Deed – The Trust Deed is the ‘rulebook’ for the Trust and sets out the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Settlor, Trustee, Protector, Beneficiaries, and any other relevant parties.

Deed of Indemnity – On occasion, establishing an offshore trust is done to prevent significant loss when claims are made against the Settlor. It is therefore important that both the Trustee and Settlor understand the risk of litigation and that the Settlor indemnifies the Trustee against any losses, which may result from its acceptance of the trusteeship.

Letter of Wishes (optional) – A Letter of Wishes explains the desires of the Settlor to the Trustee. A Letter of Wishes is not binding, but will be regarded by the Trustee as being indicative of the Settlor’s wishes and will generally be highly informative of Trustee decisions.

Due Diligence – Due diligence is undertaken by Southpac to ensure that regulatory obligations are met and that clients can be onboarded with a clean bill of health. Client due diligence will include a confidential client questionnaire, notarized or certified proofs of identity or address, a sworn affidavit of solvency, and supporting documentation relating to the source and ownership of any funds due to be transferred to the trust. Further information may be requested on a case by case basis. Client due diligence is retained by Southpac and governed by strict privacy laws preventing disclosure except under very limited circumstances.


Once your Cook Islands Trust is established it will enjoy substantial asset protection benefits. But an umbrella is of no use unless it has something to protect from the rain. Southpac can assist with the establishment of bank accounts and has contacts with numerous banks and SEC-registered investment advisors in a number of global financial centers, primarily Switzerland. Such accounts can access global investment markets advised by recognized investment advisors, or index funds curated to preserve or build upon your wealth.

Alternatively, Southpac can administer the establishment of an underlying company in Nevis or the Cook Islands that can hold an international bank or investment account in its own name.

In any case, a Cook Islands Trust can open a world of asset protection and wealth management possibilities. If you are interested in establishing a Cook Islands Trust or simply wish to request more information please contact us today for an obligation-free discussion.

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Connor Steens

Connor Steens works as an Analyst at Southpac Group. Connor has worked closely with Guy on investment an banking relationships. Connor currently oversees and monitors current marketing analytics, exposure and direction, content creation and market presence.
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