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Considerable assets found hidden in New Zealand.

Many foreign trusts have failed to register under the new trust laws of New Zealand and may have fled the country, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in “Trust the Kiwis.”

New Zealand has had lax laws and allowed foreigners to have tax-free trusts with little oversight.

However, the Panama Papers, the leaked emails of a law firm in Panama were released and all that changed.

It was revealed that New Zealand was being used by some very wealthy people to hide assets from their own governments. This created some international pressure on New Zealand by other governments, as those other governments do not appreciate avoidance of their taxes.

In response to this pressure, the New Zealand government changed its trust laws. All foreign trusts were required to register, declare who controlled the trusts and specify who the beneficiaries of the trust were.

It was assumed this move would not be a burden for most foreign trusts, since there are many reasons someone might want to have a tax-free trust in New Zealand, other than tax avoidance.

This suggests that using foreign trusts to hide assets is more common than previously thought.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (June 20, 2017) “Trust the Kiwis.”

For more information on trusts, tax planning, asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.