Given recent changes in the tax code, concerns around asset protection and privacy, and the huge influx of international families coming to the United States, selecting the proper U.S. trust jurisdiction in the planning process is more important now than ever. Below is an objective and well-researched chart comparing the leading U.S. trust jurisdictions, with a particular emphasis on areas and planning nuances that distinguish South Dakota as the superior trust jurisdiction in the overall analysis. Click here or on the image below to view the chart in PDF format.
Noting that Delaware, long considered to be a leading U.S. trust jurisdiction, is not keeping pace with other progressive U.S. trust jurisdictions, Trusts & Estates Magazine stated in its January 2018 edition that, “While Delaware has been in the top 4 jurisdictions consistently for the past ten (10) years, we think that its asset protection laws still need to be strengthened for it to remain competitive.” Alternatively, South Dakota has long been considered to be among the best trust jurisdictions in the nation because of its cutting edge laws around asset protection, dynasty and directed trusts, and privacy.
As illustrated by the shaded areas on the chart, there are six specific areas where South Dakota excels, rendering that state as the overall trust jurisdiction of choice for advisors across the country and around the world. South Dakota is generally regarded by most practitioners and academics, including Steve Oshins, a Nevada attorney, as being the best Dynasty Trust state and having the best Decanting Statute in the nation. Also, South Dakota unequivocally has the most robust privacy laws in the country, as pointed out by a recent article appearing in the January 2018 edition of Trusts & Estates Magazine comparing U.S. trust jurisdictions wherein the authors note, “Of the top tier trust jurisdictions, South Dakota has the best privacy laws in the nation.” In addition, South Dakota is one of only three states with a Community Property Trust, a compelling tax planning tool for spouses. Finally, South Dakota is the only state in the nation with a special purpose entity legislation, a powerful planning nuance used in conjunction with directed trusts and trust protectors, and is also the only state with a family advisor statute, a non-fiduciary role similar to the trust protector.