I have recently encountered significant discussion of Swiss annuities. One client asked me to research their effectiveness in asset protection; another client, a U.K. citizen, said that he already owned two Swiss annuities which he purchased in the U.K. I asked other attorneys if their clients had used Swiss annuities in asset protection. Attorney Alan Gassman, of Clearwater, Florida, a very good asset protection and tax attorney, said that two of his clients purchased Swiss annuities. Other asset protection attorneys, however, responded that they had no experience with these instruments
have not studied Swiss annuities in detail, but this is what I have heard from the above mentioned clients and from internet research. All annuities, domestic or foreign, are protected from creditors under Florida statutes, although annuities purchases may be reversed as fraudulent conversions for a period of four years. Swiss law provides additional protections including prohibiting the Swiss insurance company from complying with U.S. court orders.
More specifically, if the owner makes an irrevocable beneficiary designation to an entity such as an estate planning vehicle or a child, Swiss law would prohibit the insurance company from changing the designation if ordered to do so by a U.S. bankruptcy court. Swiss fraudulent conveyance laws have a one year statute of limitations unless the creditor can show actual intent to defraud. Florida has a four year statute of limitations. In addition, under Swiss law the creditor must show that the annuity beneficiary as well as the debtor had intent to defraud to extend the Swiss limit beyond one year; a difficult standard where the beneficiary was a child or trustee of an estate planning trust.
Swiss annuities from reputable Swiss insurance companies may be promising asset protection tools. After additional study, I would like to add a page on my website to discuss these annuities in more detail. Comments would be appreciated from anyone with more experience with Swiss annuities.