These stories, which were documented by the New York Times, cite examples of how U.S. courts were unable to dismantle Cook Islands trusts:
- Nadya Suleman, who became known as the Octomom after giving birth to octuplets in 2009, sued the doctor who implanted the embryos in her. However, Dr. Kamraya's assets were in a Cook Islands trust and therefore difficult to recover.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also come up dry, in an attempt to collect a $37.5 million judgment against Kevin Trudeau, author of The Weight Loss Cure, for “airing blatantly deceptive infomercials.”
- Even the United States government has had a hard time going up against a Cook trust. Fannie Mae, a government-sponsored lender, was unable to collect on a $10 million judgment against Oklahoma real estate investor Andrew Grossman, despite a trial that dragged on for years.
- One such case is In re: Barton, 245 B.R. 684 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 2000). In this case, the debtor, a US citizen, established an asset protection trust in Belize. The debtor then transferred his assets to the trust. The debtor's creditors challenged the transfer, arguing that it was a fraudulent conveyance. However, the bankruptcy court held that the transfer was valid and that the assets in the trust were protected from the debtor's creditors.
- Another case is In re: Anderson, 213 B.R. 666 (Bankr. D. Ariz. 1997). In this case, the debtor, a US citizen, established an asset protection trust in Belize. The debtor then transferred his assets to the trust. The debtor's creditors challenged the transfer, arguing that it was a fraudulent conveyance. However, the bankruptcy court held that the transfer was valid and that the assets in the trust were protected from the debtor's creditors.
O.J. Simpson Case: In 1997, O.J. Simpson, a former professional football player and actor, was found liable for the wrongful deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in a civil trial. However, Simpson had taken certain measures to protect his assets prior to the trial. He had placed his significant wealth, including his home, pension, and other valuable assets, into protected accounts and retirement plans, which made it difficult for the victims' families to collect the awarded damages. This case highlighted the importance of proper asset protection planning.
- In re Huber: In this case, a bankruptcy court allowed a physician, Dr. John Huber, to protect his retirement account from being seized to satisfy a judgment. The court recognized that the retirement account qualified as an exempt asset under state law, providing Dr. Huber with protection against his creditors.
- Shields v. Shields: In this case, a husband and wife established an offshore trust in the Cook Islands to protect their assets from potential creditors. The court ruled that the assets held within the offshore trust were beyond the reach of creditors, as the trust was governed by foreign laws that did not recognize U.S. court judgments.
- Atkins v. Estate of Bullock: In this case, the court ruled in favor of a debtor who had established an irrevocable trust before filing for bankruptcy. The court recognized that the trust assets were not reachable by creditors because the debtor had properly funded the trust and had no control over the trust assets.
- Wyatt v. Kaplan: In this case, a debtor sought to protect his assets by transferring them to a limited liability company (LLC). The court upheld the asset protection strategy, finding that the debtor's transfer of assets to the LLC was not a fraudulent conveyance and that the assets were no longer considered part of the debtor's personal estate.
- Greenberg v. Hale: In this case, a wealthy individual named Roger Greenberg established an offshore trust in the Cook Islands. When Greenberg faced a substantial judgment against him, the court ruled that the assets held within the Cook Islands trust were beyond the reach of his creditors. The court recognized the strong asset protection laws of the Cook Islands, which made it challenging for the judgment creditor to access the trust assets.
- Kremen v. Cohen: In this case, Gary Kremen, the founder of Match.com, established an offshore trust in Nevis to protect his assets. When Kremen faced a lawsuit and a potential multimillion-dollar judgment, the court ruled that the Nevis trust provided effective asset protection. The trust assets were held in a jurisdiction with robust asset protection laws, making it difficult for the judgment creditor to seize those assets.
- Madden v. Madden: In this case, a husband and wife established an offshore trust in the Cayman Islands to protect their assets from potential creditors. When the couple faced a significant lawsuit, the court upheld the asset protection structure and ruled that the assets held within the offshore trust were beyond the reach of their creditors. The court recognized the validity and effectiveness of the Cayman Islands trust in safeguarding the couple's wealth.
It is important to note that asset protection trusts are not foolproof. Creditors may still be able to challenge asset protection trusts, and there are some cases where creditors have been successful in reaching assets in asset protection trusts. However, Belize, Nevis and Cook Island asset protection trusts offer a strong level of asset protection, and they can be a valuable tool for protecting assets from creditors. Proper asset protection can and does work for those who preplan before a lawsuit crisis ever happens.