A simple definition of a trust might be “A trust is a relationship whereby a party called a trustee holds property, for the benefit of other parties or persons
Trusts are often used for tax or estate planning purposes. Mauritius Trusts are governed by The Trusts Act 2001.
A trust is a relationship whereby a party called a trustee holds property, for the benefit of other parties or persons, or for some purpose permitted by law.
- Relevant laws: The Trust Act 2001, The Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2002 and The Financial Services Act 2007
- No express provision for the registration of a Trust in Mauritius
- Mitigation of effects of forced heir-ship (for non- Mauritian nationals)
- Accumulation of Income over a period of time (not exceeding the maximum duration of the trust)
- Where the trust property includes an immovable property situated in Mauritius, the accumulation period shall not exceed 25 years.
- Charitable Purpose trusts can be of a perpetual duration
- Subject to criteria, a trust can claim tax exemption annually
Other Features of a Trust
Establishment of a Trust
A trust is established by the disposition of property either between living persons or by the terms of a will or by the declaration of the Trustee that he is holding the property on trust. To be valid it must be evidenced by a deed which states:
- An annual financial summary within 6 months of the Balance Sheet date
- Details of the Beneficial and Ultimate Beneficial Owner(s)
- Detailed Business Plan of the Company
- Register of Directors and Members
Except with the approval of the Prime Minister, Trust property may not include immovable property in Mauritius in the case where the beneficial interest is held by a non-citizen.
There is no register of trusts in Mauritius nor is there any need for any disclosure of beneficial owner to any authority. A trustee has a requirement under the Act to keep confidential all information regarding the trust. Under exceptional circumstances, a trustee may be required to give confidential information to authorised body or authorised persons under anti-money laundering, prevention of terrorism or prevention of corruption legislation or under the Financial Services Act 2007.
Asset Protection Features
In the absence of intent to defraud, a trust shall not be void or voidable as a consequence of a subsequent bankruptcy of the settlor nor in consequence of any action taken against the settlor by his creditors.
Where the creditor has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the trust was made with the intent to defraud creditors of the settlor, the court may declare a trust to be void or voidable.
The purpose of creation of a trust must be specific, reasonable and capable of fulfilment and not immoral, unlawful or contrary to public policy. A purpose trust must have an enforcer who can enforce the terms of the trust.
A Trust created in Mauritius allows for, inter alia:
- Restrictions / controls over the enjoyment of property
- Multiple enjoyment or consolidation of ownership
- The holding, protecting and controlling of family wealth
- Asset protection against political, family or economic uncertainable
- Commercial transactions
- Overseas ownership of property while retaining beneficial enjoyment
- Strict confidentiality of the identity of the settlor, the beneficiaries and information relating to trust affairs
- Minimizing estate taxes or other inheritance taxes
Trusts with non-resident settlors and beneficiaries are exempt from tax if election is made or, if no election is made, at an effective rate of 3% of their net income after deductions for expenses unless an election is made to be deemed non-resident and be exempt from tax. Trusts for residents are taxable at 15% on their net income after deductions for expenses.
A Mauritian Trust must have a qualified Trustee. A qualified Trustee is one licensed by the FSC to carry out trust business. Subject to the foregoing a settlor may be one of the trustees. The number of trustees may not exceed four.