How Long Does It Take to Set up a Trust?

October 9, 2023
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8 min read

Setting up a trust should be one of your foremost concerns as a high-net-worth individual. After all, the longer you wait, the more time you give your opponents to go after your assets, ranging from liquid capital to real estate and many other different types of property.

When you set up a durable, offshore asset protection trust with Dominion, your assets will be safe and secure for as long as you need. But it's no good to start the process of trust setup when legal threats are already on the horizon.

So, how long does it take to set up a trust? Let's take a closer look at this question by breaking the trust setup process down into five distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Consultation and Goalsetting

The first phase of setting up any trust is the initial consultation and goalsetting process. In a nutshell, you need to meet with legal advisors and experts who will tell you:

  • What kinds of trusts you can set up
  • What kind of trust is best for your goals (and what those goals are)
  • Where your trust should be set up
  • And more

Unless you are an expert in trust laws and legal intricacies, it’s vital that you meet with people who know what they’re talking about. For your trust to be a truly durable vehicle for your assets, it has to be drafted perfectly, and it has to be the right type.

When you work with Dominion, you'll rest assured that your trust is as resilient and protective an instrument as possible. In addition, the consultation phase is crucial since you might not know exactly what you want your trust to do.

True, you might have a general goal like, “Keep my money safe,” but how does that impact other, long-term goals like, “Build up money,” or, “Give money to my kids?” 

Getting answers to all of these questions early is ideal since you can set up the perfect trust for your needs once without having to go back to the drawing board again and again.

The first phase of the trust setup process takes a few days, on average.

Phase 2 – Research and Confirmation of Trust Details

The next big step will be researching the details of your trust, like the jurisdiction and bank in which it will be housed, and other vital details. Every trust needs you, the grantor, to appoint a trustee, who administrates the trust and handles distributions, and any beneficiaries, who receive those distributions.

If you’re interested in well-rounded, truly effective asset protection, the ideal trust will be an offshore asset protection trust. But that means you have dozens of different jurisdictions in which your trust can be set up. 

It takes time to research which jurisdiction is best for your needs based on your current situation, possible legal threats you might face in the future, and so on.

Again, if you work with the right experts, you don't have to take care of any of this work. For instance, when you contact Dominion, we'll get to work identifying the perfect jurisdiction and banking partner for your trust. We've done this for many other high-net-worth individuals ranging from doctors to business executives and more, so we're confident we can also find the perfect home for your trust vehicle.

The second phase of the trust setup process takes anywhere from a few days to a week or longer.

Phase 3 – Drafting and Redrafting

Now it's time for you (or, rather, your attorneys) to start drafting the documents of the trust. These are essentially the Constitution of your trust vehicle; they outline all the details of your trust, the terms under which you or other beneficiaries will receive distributions, and much more.

It's vital that your attorneys take as much time as necessary to draft the trust according to your specifications and to ensure legal defensiveness. If even a single line is out of place, it's possible for a very motivated lawyer to find a hole in the suit of armor that your trust should be.

Because of this, it’s not uncommon for many attorneys to spend a lot of time drafting trust documents, then having other attorneys look over the documents to see if they missed anything. 

If you work with experts, this timeframe could be truncated or faster than otherwise, though don’t expect it to be done in 24 hours. Indeed, if an attorney says they can put together an airtight trust in 24 hours, they’re not trustworthy whatsoever! 

The third phase of the trust setup process takes a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the vehicle and the jurisdiction in which your trust will be created.

Phase 4 – Signing

Once your trust documents are drafted, checked, and rechecked, now you need to sign them. If your trust is in an offshore jurisdiction, and it should be, you’ll likely need to travel to the jurisdiction for that trust. 

For instance, if you set up your trust in the Cook Islands, don’t be surprised if you need to visit the bank in person and sign any relevant documents.

This also operates as an opportunity for you to meet the bank that will house your trust, plus potentially meet the trustee in person (though this doesn’t always occur). 

In any case, you should only sign the documents on the recommendation of your legal advisers – if they think something’s wrong with the trust, it might be worth going elsewhere or redrafting the documents to eliminate any legal vulnerabilities.

The fourth phase of the trust setup process takes a matter of hours, not counting travel time (which might be necessary if your trust is set up in a jurisdiction far from your home).

Phase 5 – Asset Transfers

Once your trust is set up, you’re not done. After all, it’s empty.

At this stage, you need to transfer any valuable assets into the vehicle. Certain trust assets can be transferred much more quickly than others. 

For instance, it’s faster to transfer money from your bank account into the bank account of your trust since it’s all just digital numbers moving around through the World Wide Web.

It’s much slower to transfer real estate deeds and other high-value property to a trust. The documents for property transfers need to be checked, verified, and stored properly for it all to go through. 

Since transferring your assets can take more time than you expect, it’s wise to create and fill your trust well ahead of any potential trouble you think you will encounter.

The fifth phase of the trust setup process can take weeks or months, depending on where your trust is and the kinds of assets you want to transfer into the vehicle.

So, How Long Does it Take to Set Up a Trust?

When all is said and done, it will take anywhere from several weeks to several months to set up your trust from start to finish. Setting up your trust now is always wise – if you try to do so in the midst of a legal battle, you could find that your trust isn’t ready when you need it. 

Set Up a Trust with Dominion 

At the end of the day, the sooner you get your trust set up started, the better. Dominion can help you take the initial steps needed to craft and enact a fantastic trust vehicle faster than many other firms, and we’re well-equipped and ready to ensure that your trust operates as the ideal security vessel for your assets.

With over a century of experience shared between our members, Dominion's advisors and legal experts are the perfect people to contact if you have further questions about trust setup, what's involved, or how long everything will take. Contact us today for an initial consultation.


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