Trust, Estate Planning & Probate Law

Trust, Estate Planning and Probate Law

Under this head, Evans & Co. provides the following legal services:-

• The drafting of Wills
• The drafting of Trusts
• Formation of Foundations
• Incorporation of Companies
• Wealth Management
• Administration of Estates
• Probate Matters
• Asset Protection
• Estate Planning
• Power of Attorney
• Resealing of Foreign Wills

Trust and Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate or the protection of assets. It attempts to eliminate uncertainties over who would apply for and take probate, reduce taxes and other expenses, as well as to provide guardians for minor children and dependents with disabilities.

There are several devices that can be used either singularly or in concert in the planning of an estate. These are:-

1. Will
Reduced to its simplest, a Will is a declaration in the prescribed form of the intention of the person making it (“the Testator”) with regard to matters which he wishes to take effect upon death. In a Will, the Testator can dispose of assets, appoint guardians for minor children or beneficiaries with incapacity; give directions as to funeral/burial; create a trust, create a foundation and appoint executors and trustees. The Wills Act, 2002 stipulates the formalities for creating a valid Will.

2. Trust
A trust is created where the owner of a property or asset (“the Settlor”) transfers that property or asset to a person called a Trustee for the benefit of a person called the Beneficiary. A trust can take effect during the life of the Settlor or on death. Once a Settlor constitutes a trust by placing assets therein, the assets transferred cease to be that of the Settlor, therefore are immune from any claim brought against the Settlor. The Trustee Act, 1998 (and attendant amendments) governs the creation of trusts. The Act allows (among other things) for the reservation of certain powers by the Settlor.

3. Companies
A company is considered a separate legal entity with perpetual existence. Because the assets of the company are separate from the assets of its shareholders, the use of a company in asset protection structures is common. A company can be incorporated under the Companies Act, 1992 or the International Business Companies Act, 2000.

4. Insurance Policies
Life Insurance is an excellent way to provide for loved ones on demise. It can close the financial gap where there does not readily exist a “nest egg” for those left behind. Once a beneficiary has been named in a policy of insurance, the policy proceeds on death is paid to the named beneficiary without the need for the estate to be probated. Unless the estate is named as the beneficiary of the policy, in which case letters of administration or a grant of probate would have to be obtained before the Insurer can release the policy proceeds.

5. The Use of Joint Tenancy in Property Ownership
Benefit of the use of joint tenancy as a means of holding property is that on death of one of the joint tenants, the property automatically by way of operation of law vests in the remaining joint tenant(s). Further, property held under a joint tenancy can not be levied against by a creditor who has obtained judgment against a single tenant.

6. Foundations
A foundation is a legal entity established by a foundation charter in accordance with the Foundations Act, 2004. Assets transferred to the foundation become the assets of the foundation and like a trust, a foundation can have beneficiaries and a protector and certain powers can be reserved by the founder. But like a company, the foundation can have unlimited duration. A foundation can be established for charitable and non-charitable purposes. In many aspects the foundations incorporates the best elements of a company and trust and therefore can become quite a useful tool in planning an estate.

7. Power of Attorneys
A power of attorney gives another the power to act on individual/entity’s behalf. The power can be given for a specific purpose, time period, be revoked on the happening of an event or stated to endure notwithstanding mental incapacity.

A certificate granted by the Supreme Court to the effect that the will of a certaibn person has been proved and registered in the court and that the administration of that person’s effects has been granted to the executor proving the will. The grant of probate confirms the authority of the executor which derives from the Will.

Where there is no Will application is made for the grant of Letters of Administration. The grant of Letters of Administration appoints an Administrator over the estate and confirms the power of the Administrator to administer the estate in accordance with the rules governing intestacy.

Everyone has an estate. The only question is, “What is the size of the estate?” Corresponding to the size of the estate would be the complexity of structure needed to take into account as the relevant concerns. It is essential to seek qualified and competent legal advice to create (or alternatively, ensure) that the structure in place is appropriate to suit your needs.

Veronique J.N. Evans is the attorney who is responsible for advising the clients at Evans and Co. on Bahamas Trust, Estate Planning and Probate Law. Ms. Evans is extremely competent in this area of law having obtained a Diploma in International Trust Management with Distinction. Ms. Evans was also the winner of the 2016 STEP Caribbean “Top Student Award” which is awarded to the STEP diploma candidate with the highest grades across the four papers that comprise the diploma.

Ms. Evans be contacted at 242-328-8510 and by email Of course our Senior Partner Mr. Thomas Evans Q.C maintains a watchful eye over everything that is done in the firm.

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