Florida attorney Carly Howard recently published in article in the University of Miami’s International Law Journal that should be of interest to Florida practitioners working with foreign clients and their advisors. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to Trust Funds in Common Law and Civil Law Systems: A Comparative Analysis, 13 U. Miami Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 343 (2006).
Due to globalization and the impact of international investing upon legal and financial systems, the trust and similar instruments have become enormously popular. Although the realm of trusts was fairly clear-cut only 30 years ago, there has been a “massification” of the trust throughout the world. Countries without traditional trust devices have been forced to adapt their laws to accommodate the growing use of trusts across the globe. Even original trust law jurisdictions have made frequent and drastic changes to trust law in response to its growing popularity.
This paper focuses on theories which validate and invalidate private trusts, as opposed to public or charitable trusts, and emphasizes the world’s attempts to harmonize differences in attitudes toward trusts. Topics include: 1) definitions and formalities of trusts; 2) purposes and elements of a trust; 3) histories of the common law trust and its civil law counterparts; 4) general principles of enforcement and recognition of trusts, particularly in light of the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition 1985. Although an understanding of the global state of trusts can be found by comparing the laws of particular countries, this paper surveys the general theories behind trust mechanisms and their application.