Tricks of the Trade

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Cross-Border, Multi-National and Multi-State Issues, Opportunities and Risks

In cross-border issues and investments, strategies used in one country often do not work in others.

There are different ways to operate that may not be familiar – and the United States has some awfully good ones, even for citizens of other countries. To my mind, it is now the safest and by far the best place to shelter wealth, and it will be for the foreseeable future.

Even many persons within the United States seem not to understand the major benefits of placing title to assets in certain wealth-protective and tax-friendly States, or in the very safe “special purpose” legal entities unique to the US and a few other countries.

Once popular offshore trusts are under attack and their dangers have greatly increased. However, word is getting out about safer choices, as described below.

What Has Changed In the World of Holding Wealth

I've worked throughout the world for over 50 years as an attorney and counselor at law for all kinds of parties, from the largest multinational corporations to small businesses, individuals and families.

Four years ago, while practicing law in Japan, my work on cross-border trusts and estates for high net worth clients caused me to reexamine the right US jurisdictions in which to shelter client assets - as contrasted with the ones in which those clients reside. That led me to thoroughly examine the modern, so-called “advisor-friendly” trust administration industry and to note several very attractive features.

This has changed dramatically from when I first worked on trusts and estate planning and large multinational companies decades ago, and the differences are huge.

Nonetheless, in checking with others, many outstanding advisors I consulted seemed not to be aware of this. Some of the differences are too detailed to explain here, but the changes are awfully good for clients.

What is new? In terms of the big picture, Travis H. Brown’s 2013 book, “
How Money Walks, How $2 Trillion Moved Between the States, and Why It Matters,” explains what is happening.

Look at the contrasts between California, New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, which wealthy clients often like as places to live and invest, on one hand, and far better States in which to shelter their assets.

Those better States now offer far lower costs, including low or no taxes, and also much greater legal protections and flexibility. South Dakota, the one I find the best, has been in the forefront. (Some others, believe it or not, are actually getting worse!) Note the vast wealth being moved by smart US citizens from the first States to the others.

Brown’s book, based on reliable US Census data, focuses almost entirely on tax costs. Look at the savings, which can exceed 13% per year in the above situations.

Beyond this, proper structure and location also offer greater asset protection from creditors and lawsuits, extreme privacy, freedom from excessive regulation, infinite duration “dynasty” trusts, security and flexibility - whether one owns a business, real estate or other assets.

You may even wish to set up your own private family trust company with private banking and investment powers, as many very high net worth US families have done.

South Dakota, the best trust jurisdiction in all categories, offers all of these. Note that those who place title to their assets in South Dakota can still live elsewhere, even outside the US. One does need to place title to the assets in the hands of an entirely reliable local entity in order to get the safeguards of the local laws there.

South Dakota Trust Company, LLC, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the purely administrative trust company I chose, is very experienced in serving such clients from all over the world. Its two founders essentially created the field, by writing the new laws on which it depends.

I’ve Been a Client Myself

As a sometime client myself, I have personally worked closely with (and have hired) many top-quality lawyers, CPAs, investment advisors, bankers and other professionals, including the biggest firms in the world.

In this field, I now offer support (including recommending the right structure and other advantages) to them and their clients, without conflicting with their interests.

Asian and Cross-Border Clients

I now spend my entire focus on helping cross-border and US clients protect their savings and businesses. I do this by diagnosing the best ways to shelter assets and relocate families in the best safe haven in the world, the United States. They are free to choose their favorite places to reside, as well as where they choose to hold title to their assets and companies. As noted, I recommend holding title in the American State of South Dakota. I also support advisors on how best to help their clients place those investments there. (Again, the assets can actually be physically located elsewhere as you choose, as long as title is held through a trust or other protective entity in South Dakota.)

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Protected Investing In the United States • Results That Work • Extraordinary, High Value Outcomes