In 1990, Belize entered the offshore scene with the enactment of new legislation creating the International Business Company or Belize Offshore Company, a refinement of the BVI model. Other offshore legislation soon followed, and today Belize is one of the world’s leading offshore financial centers. A trust may be defined as a relationship which arises where property is vested in a person or persons called Trustees who are obliged to hold that property for the use and benefit of other persons called the Beneficiaries. The person creating the trust and vesting the property is called the Settlor.
The Belize Trust Act, 1992 is now the principal sources of trusts legislation in Belize, and its enactment repealed and replaced the Belize Trust Act, 1923. The new legislation, considered perhaps the most modern trust legislation in the world, was drafted by a select team of trusts experts in London, with assistance of experts from Belize and the USA.
Trusts are used for a wide variety of purposes such as to:
No formalities or technical expressions are required for the creation of a trust, provided that the intention of the settlor to create a trust is clearly manifested.
Trusts may generally be created by oral declaration, or by instrument in writing, by conduct, by operation of law, or in any other manner. However, unit trusts must be created by an instrument in writing and trusts respecting land in Belize cannot be enforced unless evidenced in writing.
The Trust must be registered in Belize in order to be valid.
The proper law of a trust shall be the law expressed by the terms of the trust or intended by the settlor. If no such law is expressed or intended, the law with which the trust has its closest connection at the time of creation shall be the proper law. If the law expressed by the terms of the trust or intended by the settlor, or which the trust has its closest connection at the time of creation, does not provide for trusts or the category of trusts involved, the law of Belize shall be the proper law.
The terms of a trust may provide for a severable aspect of the trust to be governed by a different law from the proper law of the trust, and for the proper law of the trust or the law governing a severable aspect of the trust to be changed from that of one jurisdiction to another.
A trust shall be an international trust in any year if neither the settlor nor the beneficiaries are resident in Belize during that year, and the trust property does not include any land situated in Belize.