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The BVI Vista Trust: The most flexible and cost efficient Trust

Trusts have traditionally been regarded as one of the most effective succession planning vehicle. However a number of obstacles have always hindered the smooth running of such structures, because of the lack of flexibility of so-called "typical" Trusts.

What is a Vista Trust ?

A BVI VISTA TRUST is a specific type of revocable trust created in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), under the special Trust Act of 2003, which allows businessmen to keep a certain autonomy in their business operations while at the same time it allows them to address the issue of business succession. This trust is combined with a BVI business company to provide asset protection and estate planification.

Defining VISTA and its Intended Solution

Enter VISTA - a legislative framework introduced by BVI in 2003, enacted in 2004, to handle the transfer of shares. The idea was that the owner of a corporate entity may set up a trust to hold the shares that could be held indefinitely, where the trustee(s) is/are relieved of their obligations, and such decisions may be made by the board without hindrance from doing so.

  • Under VISTA, the trustee or trustees maintain the responsibility of holding the shares – which are referred to as “designated shares”.
  • Second, the system of preserving and enhancing their value is secondary to the “designated shares” duty.
  • Trustees now have limited power of disposal which will be outlined in the deeds of trust.
  • VISTA dictates that no trustee is permitted to interfere in the day-to-day running of the organisation unless given express permission to do so in certain circumstance. This should be outlined in the deed.
  • The trust deed should also contain an “Office of Director” rule. This determines how the trustee is to vote with regard to the actions of directors such as remuneration, and the removal or appointment of new directors. This also means that trustees are not permitted to appoint directors unless specified in the deed.
  • Interested persons such as a protector or beneficiary may make what is known as an “intervention call”. This is the ability to petition the trustee to act in the best interests of the trust. The grounds for doing so will be set down as “permitted grounds for complaint” in the deed. This is the only condition under which the trustee may intervene.

VISTA applies only to trusts that BVI governs and only to trusts incorporated by the BVI. It is not mandatory even then; it only applies when specified in the trust’s deed. It can apply retroactively so long as the deed permits alterations. Trusts subject to VISTA may also have more than one trustee if desired; there must be a minimum of one “designated trustee” – one able and licensed to carry out their tasks. They must also hold shares of organisations incorporated in BVI; anyone who succeeds them should they step down, will be subject to the same terms.

Parties involved

  • The settlor (or grantor), who is the founder of the trust. The settlor will transfer the initial assets (such as the shares of an offshore company) to the trust via the conclusion of a Trust Deed. Once the transfer is done, the assets will be managed by the trustee and the settlor will no longer be the owner of those assets, unless the trust is revoked by the settlor.
  • The trustee, who will hold the assets such as the shares of the BVI business company. A VISTA trust can have more than one trustee. Our BVI agent may provide a trustee in order to meet BVI legal requirements. In that configuration, the trustee’s role will be limited to managing the ownership of the shares in trust and for the benefit of the beneficiaries according to the Trust Deed. Individuals and/or non-BVI companies can be co-trustees.
  • The beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be appointed by the settlor in the Trust Deed. The settlor can appoint anyone, even if a settlor will usually designate his or her heirs. The settlor can appoint specific individuals, or can designate a circle of determinable beneficiaries (i.e. children, parents, siblings, etc.). It allows to include unborn children. The assets will be managed by the trustee in favor of beneficiaries.
  • The protector (optional), who may be a corporate body or an individual. Its functions are limited to protect beneficiaries’ interests based on the Trust Deed.

Applications of VISTA in Practice

VISTA’s establishment in 2003 and introduction in 2004 created many opportunities. Its primary concern is with a trust’s administration and day-to-day management and not its deed or provisions. It is possible to apply VISTA to any type of trust. The examples listed here are fairly typical of how, when, and why it is applied:

  • Management of the trust assets via the BVI company

    Allows the Settlor to effectively manage the trust assets via the management of the company without the intervention of the trustee and to control the appointment, removal and remuneration of the directors in the company.

  • Succession planning

    Upon the death of an owner, a company may undergo a degree of uncertainty. VISTA removes potential interference by a trustee as sometimes happens with non-VISTA trusts . Shares of the BVI company can be quickly and smoothly distributed to beneficiaries upon the death of the settlor.

  • Avoidance of Probate

    Trust assets are not subject to lengthy, costly and public probate (which a public legal proceeding in common law jurisdictions whereby a will is «proved» in a court and accepted as a valid public document as the last testament of a deceased person. This is usually the first step before the administration and distribution of the estate to the heirs.

  • Divorce settlement

    It is applied to assets to prevent a former spouse or their new partner, offspring, or extended family, from staking a claim to a business asset under any circumstances.

  • Reduced administration costs

    Minimal involvement of the trustee means much lower costs/fees than in case of a traditional trust. In addition, the set-up the BVI Vista Trust is less expensive than a regular trust as there is a standard Trust deed that the settlor can amend depending on their needs.

  • Revocable

    Allows the Settlor to cancel or amend the Trust Deed, should family or other circumstances change.

  • Certainty

    Name of the ultimate beneficial owners, who will receive the BVI company shares on the death of the settlor, appear only in the Trust Deed.

  • Confidentiality

    Trust assets held under a BVI Vista trust allow for the identities and interests of Trust-related parties to remain confidential.

It takes 1 month and half** to create the trust along with the offshore company.

Set-up fee for the BVI Trust – USD 4750 which includes:

  • BVI VISTA Trust’s Constitutional Charter
  • Preparation of the Trust Deed
  • Appointment of the Trustee
  • Trustee’s fees
  • First year governmental fees

Renewal fees – USD 2650 (includes trustee fees, governmental fees, etc.)

In addition, set-up fee for the BVI business company: ./rates-bvicompanies.

Should you have any questions pertaining to the BVI Vista Trust, kindly use the below form to contact us. We will attend to your queries within 24 business hours.


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Unlock the versatility of a British Virgin Islands Vista Trust with SFM. The British Virgin Islands provide a well-established legal framework and a supportive business environment for trust formation. SFM's expertise in Vista Trusts ensures personalized solutions tailored to your wealth management and asset protection needs.

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