Estate planning in the United States would be a lot different if we did not have the ability to use Trusts. It would be a strange world indeed if the concept of a Trust was unknown. Today, millions of Americans use Trusts to arrange their estates and you have to wonder how things would look if that were not the case.
There are places in this world where Trusts are not well known, if they are even known at all. Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum passed away as one of the wealthiest women in the world. The Chinese business woman’s estate is the subject of a controversy in the Hong Kong courts. Her fortune was left to a charitable foundation by a Will. What is unclear is whether she meant to leave the fortune to the foundation in a Trust. The foundation argues that because a Trust is an alien concept in China it is not clear that Wang even knew what one is. They also argue that she would not have intended to leave her fortune in such a foreign way even if she did know what a Trust is.
It is an interesting case. If we did not have Trusts, then perhaps there would be some other instrument that people would use to plan their estates that would accomplish the same thing. Maybe not. Fortunately, we do not have to find o
Duffy Law Office is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.