It is estimated that around half of the independent wealth in the world is held through one form of trust structure or another. Trusts are recognized as one of the most flexible and versatile vehicles for holding and managing assets and also make somewhat easier the daunting task of administering a conditional or revocable gift.
Thus, for example, one can create a trust to ensure that in the event of his/her death or in the event that he/she becomes incapable or unable to properly administer his/her wealth due to ill health, disability or age, the assets which he/she would have accumulated during his/her lifetime will not be dissipated carelessly and both his/her needs and those of his/her family or heirs will still be catered for. These needs could relate to, for example, medical treatment, accommodation, care subsistence or education. A trust may also be set up for the advantage of the settlor himself, such as for tax planning or asset protection purposes.
Through a trust, the beneficial interest of assets is conveyed to the beneficiaries whereas the legal ownership thereof is vested in the trustees. The trustees have the obligation to preserve the trust assets, whilst at the same time ensuring that the beneficiaries are in receipt of that to which they are entitled. In fulfilling their duties, the trustees are guided by the provisions of the trust deed and the law.
The Trusts and Trustees Act, which regulates the creation and administration of trusts, recognizes the main types of trusts which are provided for in traditional Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions. A Maltese trust may be created verbally, in writing (including testamentary trusts), by operation of law or by a judicial decision.