How Much Does It Cost to Set up an Irrevocable Trust?

October 9, 2023
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8 min read

Irrevocable or unchangeable asset protection trusts are some of the most vital and valuable instruments in your repertoire as a high-net-worth individual. If you set up the right irrevocable trust, your key assets, like real estate or liquid capital, can be kept safe and secure from legal opponents of all stripes.

That said, this crucial legal service isn’t free, and you should expect to pay reasonable fees for the expertise necessary to make your trust as ironclad and defensible as possible. If you want to know how much it costs to set up an irrevocable trust, keep reading.

Average Cost to Set Up an Irrevocable Trust

A domestic irrevocable trust in the US – which is normally used for family or estate planning purposes – will cost anywhere between $1000 and $5000 or more. Rates are usually charged based on things like:

  • How many hours of legal services you need (attorneys generally charge by the hour)
  • What fees are involved with transferring assets into the trust
  • Any other fees that might be necessary to finalize the trust paperwork

However, these costs can vary wildly. Budget firms might advertise very low costs to set up irrevocable trusts, and these firms are never worth your time, particularly if you have millions of dollars you need to protect. 

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and when it comes to asset protection, you shouldn’t pay as little as possible! 

The Cost Difference Between US Trusts and Offshore Trusts

Indeed, there can be significant cost differences between US-based or domestic trusts and offshore irrevocable trusts. Offshore trusts are superior defensive instruments for asset protection purposes.

Since they are based in different jurisdictions than yours, they aren’t subject to the same US court laws or rulings. Therefore, the assets you place in an offshore irrevocable trust are safer than those you place in a domestic trust.

If you’re involved in a lawsuit or creditor claim, for example, even if you are found liable for damages, you can’t be forced to give up the assets you place in an offshore trust (assuming that it’s written correctly, of course).

Many offshore trusts cost more than their domestic counterparts. Offshore trusts may have extra fees, it might cost more money to visit the banks and lawyers you need to work with to set up the trust, and other expenses may also apply.

Still, the increased cost for an offshore trust is usually well worth it. You not only get better peace of mind – you also get true asset protection and long-term defense for you and any beneficiaries you have in mind for decades down the road. 

Account for Long-Term Costs

You don’t just pay initial costs when you set up an irrevocable trust, such as legal fees and drafting fees. You also need to account for long-term costs.

Generally, trustees charge a commission fee on an ongoing or annual basis. This is typically a percentage of the principal value of the trust’s assets.

For example, if you have millions of dollars in an offshore irrevocable trust, and that money is invested, the trustee will take a percentage of the income from the assets to pay for their services. These ongoing costs can significantly impact whether one trust or jurisdiction is better than another.

An Irrevocable Trust is Certainly Worth It

If you’ll pay thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to set up an offshore irrevocable trust, is it really worthwhile?

Absolutely. The last thing you want to do is leave the security of your estate and your valuable assets up to chance. 

With something as important as asset protection, it is definitely worthwhile to spend extra now – and protect your assets in the legal equivalent of an underground vault – than it is to save a buck in the short term and end up having to pay court fees or damages out of your so-called impenetrable trust instrument.

Think of it this way – would you rather pay a little extra money right now and get excellent, durable protection, or would you rather pay in the form of millions or tens of millions of dollars later on because you tried to be cheap right now?

You're already a high-net-worth individual. You already have tens of millions of dollars to your name. You don't need to save money for something as basic as trust setup fees. You can save money elsewhere – namely, by ensuring that your assets can't be taken by creditors or lawsuits.

A premium irrevocable trust is definitely worth it if you want to:

  • Safeguard your assets against legal claims of creditors
  • Ensure that your estate and assets are still valuable and claimable by beneficiaries or descendants decades into the future
  • Get expert legal advice and financial management assistance, which can help your assets grow in value over time and even keep pace with inflation

If you’re new to the high net worth sector, it can be difficult for you to get your head around this. But you’re in a different arena now. Pay for premium – it’s worth it.

Contact Dominion Today

All in all, the exact amount it’ll cost to set up a good irrevocable trust will depend on who you work with, what you need from the trust, and the trust’s jurisdiction. 

It’s a different financial arrangement for everyone, which is why you should work with experts who can provide bespoke financial advising services like Dominion.

At Dominion, we can break down the details of trust setup, as well as go over the likely costs you'll pay initially and over the lifespan of the trust. We'll answer any questions you have and provide you with sound counsel so you make the right decision for your family and your finances.

Remember, the price you pay for asset protection is far less than the price you might pay without it. With that in mind, do yourself and your estate a favor and get in touch with one of our representatives today.


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