In New Zealand the Law Commission has recommended that there not be a register of trusts in New Zealand. See Review of the Law of Trusts: A Trusts Act for New Zealand at 18.28.
The Law Commission view that this is too blunt an instrument to use to improve accountability to beneficiaries.
While the privacy that trust ownership affords can be a driver behind a decision to settle a trust, from the perspective of beneficiaries this privacy can make it extremely difficult to enforce beneficiaries rights. How can a beneficiary enforce a right the beneficiary is ignorant of and has no means to establish?
However, the possibility of this decision being revisited cannot be ruled out. Not because of a re-think regarding how beneficiary rights might be better protected or enforced but in response to international moves in response to money laundering and financial terrorism. See EU shines light on dirty money with central registers
The European Parliament has now voted to endorse the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, mandating beneficial ownership registers of companies and trusts in all EU member states. The final text is likely to be gazetted in June or July, triggering the start of the two-year countdown to the directive’s implementation by each country with Beneficial ownership registers being predicted to go live in the EU by July 2017.
While this does not mean that the same will occur in New Zealand subtle moves are afoot regarding exposing beneficial ownership regarding companies and it is now a requirement when incorporating a comply to disclose the ultimate shareholder. See new Companies Office rules about ultimate holding companies.
Some things to think about when developing structures and appointing beneficiaries.