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America is more British than modern day Britain.

British lords seized power from King John in 1215, forced him to sign the Magna Carta allowing a right to bear arms and the militia ethic was borne in the English-speaking world. But the Brits killed their own militia ethic early and one of the primary objectives of the American Revolution was to regain the rights of Englishmen. Fortunately we were there, armed and trained, to rescue our feckless cousins in WW1, WW2, etc.

The other great legacy we got from the Brits is the trust ethic. Trusts of a sort date back to ancient republics but really developed under English courts of equity starting when trusting knights found common law not very effective in getting their property back when they returned from fighting in the crusades. The resulting body of equitable law has been a great boon to freedom and privacy but now trusts are under attack in Britain with a new law requiring registration of “beneficial owners”:

The term “beneficial owner” has been given a wide meaning, and trustees will be required to provide information on the identities of the settlors, other trustees, beneficiaries (including discretionary objects) and all other natural or legal persons exercising effective control over the trust. In this context “control” means power to deal with trust assets, to vary or terminate the trust, to add or remove a beneficiary, to appoint or remove trustees and to exercise consent or veto powers. On that basis a protector is also likely to be someone who exercises control.

In a remarkable convergence, these rules are disturbingly similar to rules recently adopted by ATF here in the US for background checks and other requirements placed on “responsible persons” having control over NFA firearms in a gun trust.

Beware — asset protection trust planning is facing a number of serious threats these days, and most of the bar is ill-equipped by nature and disposition to wisely preserve family power.


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