Exploring the Trust Fund in the Czech and Spanish legal systems


In the vast realm of legal systems, some ideas break through borders, while others remain confined. One such concept is the trust fund, originating from common law systems, which can pose challenges in understanding and recognition across different legal traditions. While continental law nations like the Czech Republic have embraced the trust fund with unique features and benefits, other countries such as Spain lack a direct equivalent, leading to potential complexities in interpretation.

This article takes you on a journey through the trust fund, exploring how it unfolds in the contexts of the Czech Republic and Spain. We’ll dive into Czech Law, examining how it handles trust funds and uncovering their advantages. Then, we will delve into a comparison, contrasting trust funds with Spain’s fiduciary agreements, shedding light on their key distinctions. Lastly, we’ll explore the intriguing case of the Catalan trust fund. Join us as we navigate this fascinating terrain of legal concepts and their cross-cultural dynamics.

Czech law:


Imagine having a smart, strategic way to manage your assets and secure your family’s future. That’s exactly what the Czech trust fund[1] offers, and it’s easier to understand than you might think. Let’s break it down into three key elements:

  1. Transfer of Property: When you set up a trust fund, you’re creating a unique space for your assets to thrive. You, as the person establishing the trust (known as the settlor), transfer a portion of your property to a separate entity. This entity doesn’t have its own legal identity.
  2. Trustee Management: Your assets are in capable hands with a trustee – someone you trust to oversee them. This trustee, chosen by you, manages the property for the benefit of specific people or causes. Here is the interesting part: neither you, the trustee, nor the beneficiaries own the trust fund property.
  3. Separation of Control and Benefits: A clear division exists between the management of the trust fund (handled by the trustee) and the receipt of economic benefits (received by the beneficiaries). This clear distinction ensures that your assets are put to work effectively while ensuring everyone benefits.

Within this framework, three key roles emerge: the settlor, the trustee, and the beneficiary.

You (Settlor): You transmit part of your property to a trustee (a trusted person of your choice) who has the mission of managing it for the benefit of a third party.

Trustee: Administers the property and distributes benefits in the best interest of the beneficiaries. They can be an individual with legal capacity or a legal entity like a corporation, if allowed by law. It is important to note that the settlor or beneficiary can also serve as the trustee, alongside another appointed trustee (co-trusteeship).

Beneficiary: The lucky one who benefits from your trust’s profit – it could be you, family, or anyone you choose. They are determined in a contract or in an ‚acquisition on death‘ arrangement and can include various parties, such as the settlor themselves, family members, partners, or employees.

Types of Trust Funds: Exploring Your Options

When considering the establishment of a trust fund, it’s essential to understand the distinct categories it falls under: private and public. Let’s delve into the details to help you determine which type aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Private Trust Fund:

A private trust fund is a versatile tool with a range of purposes, all tailored to suit your unique needs. Here are a few scenarios where a private trust fund could prove invaluable:

  • Personal Benefits: Are you looking to provide specific individuals, like your children or spouse, with financial support through charitable donations? A private trust fund can help you secure their future.
  • Preserving Precious Assets: Valuable family heirlooms, real estate, or investments can find a haven within a private trust fund. This ensures their preservation for generations to come.
  • Investment Vehicle: Looking to create a robust financial plan, perhaps for retirement? A private trust fund can serve as a versatile investment vehicle, benefiting you and designated beneficiaries.

There is also a timeframe for beneficiary entitlement within one hundred years from the trust’s establishment. There are two exceptions:

  • Extended Benefits: Even after a century, beneficiaries can enjoy benefits if the legal documents specify so, ensuring your legacy endures.
  • Successive Beneficiaries: If designed, benefits can pass from one beneficiary to another, ensuring your intentions reach multiple generations.

The possibilities with a private trust fund are vast, empowering you to leave a lasting impact while securing your financial future and that of your loved ones. So, what would a private trust fund mean for you? How could it contribute to your vision of financial security and legacy? Let’s explore the options together.

Advantages of Trust Funds:

Creating a trust fund comes with a host of benefits, especially when considering asset protection and tax advantages. This holds particular significance for contractors and entrepreneurs, offering both protection for assets and strategic tax planning opportunities.

a) Shielding Assets and Managing Liability:

 A trust allows you to maintain control over assets while protecting them from potential legal actions or financial obligations, a crucial feature for entrepreneurs exposed to liability. It’s a smart tool for safeguarding your assets. It is important to point out that it is only possible to create a trust fund if, at the time of its constitution, the settlor does not have any credit or legal actions initiated against his assets.

b) Smooth Succession Planning:

Trust funds facilitate a seamless transition of assets, which is essential for family-owned businesses. You can plan for a harmonious passing of assets to successors, ensuring financial security for heirs. Think of it as a way to distribute assets to children or young adults at specific life stages, such as education milestones.

c) Structured Inheritance:

Trusts are excellent for distributing inheritances fairly, particularly in complex family situations. If you have a blended family, trusts help allocate assets between a spouse and children from previous relationships, minimizing potential conflicts.

d) Professional Asset Management:

 Trusts allow experts to manage assets after your passing, ensuring responsible handling and long-term growth. This is especially valuable for maintaining asset value and securing beneficiaries‘ financial future.

e) Supporting Vulnerable Beneficiaries:

In cases involving vulnerable beneficiaries, like disabled family members, trusts provide a protective framework. They guarantee ongoing support, manage finances, and ensure the well-being of beneficiaries.

f) Resilient Asset Protection:

Assets within trusts are shielded from creditors, protecting beneficiaries from potential recovery actions. Trusts act as separate entities, safeguarding beneficiaries even during financial challenges.

In conclusion, trust funds offer a range of benefits, from safeguarding assets and minimizing legal risks to distributing inheritances strategically. For contractors and entrepreneurs seeking a comprehensive solution to manage assets and secure their legacy, trust funds are a versatile and powerful tool. What potential benefits could a trust fund offer you and your specific circumstances? How might a trust fund enhance your asset protection and financial planning? Consider the advantages and envision how a trust fund could be a valuable addition to your financial strategy.

Spanish Law:

Spanish Regulation:

In Spain’s legal landscape, the concept of a trust fund lacks a direct counterpart. While rooted in the common law tradition, the trust fund has not been formally integrated into Spanish legislation. To complicate matters, Spain has not adopted the trust fund nor officially acknowledged it within its legal framework. This section of the article aims to shed light on the closest legal alternatives within Spanish law and explore an example of a trust fund under Catalan legislation.

Fiduciary Agreements in Spain

While the formal concept of a „trust“ does not exist within Spanish law or the Hague Convention, Spain does recognize some mechanisms for managing assets and separate estates, some of which share similarities with the core principles of a trust, even though they possess distinct characteristics.[2]

Within the Spanish legal framework, two distinct institutions resembling the concept of a „trust“: „la fiducia“ and „el fideicomiso.“

La Fiducia:

„La fiducia“ involves an agreement based on trust, where one party (the „fiduciante“) transfers an asset or right to another party (the „fiduciario“) for a specific purpose. Upon fulfilling this purpose, the fiduciario returns the asset to the fiduciante or transfers it to a third party. Spanish courts recognize „fiducia,“ although it remains unregulated and is considered an atypical agreement. These arrangements usually occur between living individuals and can relate to inheritance matters. In the Spanish context, the Czech trust fund resembles an atypical fiduciary agreement, although more intricate than traditional „fiducias.“

A practical example of the use of „fiducia“ in Spain is the „Fiducia cum amico: an agreement based on trust“.[3]

Despite the lack of specific regulation, the popularity of this arrangement is growing, particularly among spouses. It often comes into play when one spouse is engaged in a business activity and seeks to protect assets from potential business-related risks. This type of agreement is frequently accompanied by a prior separation of property, establishing an apparent agreement.

The usual structure occurs when the trustee (the spouse not involved in the business) agrees to safeguard an estate for the benefit of the settlor (the spouse involved in the business) or even a third party. In such cases, formal or registry ownership is transferred to the non-entrepreneurial spouse, while the beneficial owner remains with the entrepreneurial spouse. These contracts often hide the real ownership of the business spouse behind the apparent formal ownership of the non-business spouse.

Which can be complicated if it is an unwritten contract.

El Fideicomiso:

The concept of „fideicomiso“[4] has evolved over time. However, in contemporary Spanish law, the formal institution of „fideicomiso“ is absent. Instead, the term is used to describe a form of substitution as outlined in the Civil Code. This „sustitución Fideicomisaria“ („Sustitutition fideicomisaria“) involves a testamentary provision where an heir or legatee is successively changed due to a condition or term, such as the death of the trustee. When comparing „fideicomiso“ with the trust, it’s evident that „fideicomiso“ is testamentary in nature, whereas the trust can serve commercial or financial purposes as well.

Example of the Utility of Fideicomiso: Trustee Substitution – An Asset Protection Mechanism[5]

While not widely used in Spain and currently falling out of practice, trustee substitution remains a legal avenue that a testator can explore when seeking to preserve a portion of an inheritance for later delivery to a designated heir. This approach safeguards assets until an opportune moment, shielding them from undue risks.

Key Players in the Process:

  • The settlor: The testator establishing the trust within their will.
  • The trustee: The individual responsible for the safekeeping and management of assets during a specified period, with the duty to hand them over to the final heir when the time is right. Typically, the trustee is the first or direct heir.
  • The heir trustee: The ultimate beneficiary who will eventually inherit the assets held within the trust, becoming the rightful heir.

To validate the substitution of trustees, certain requirements must be met, such as not exceeding the second degree of kinship and limiting the succession of trustees to two.

This mechanism is often used to retain assets within the family, especially those with deep sentimental value or that have been part of the family legacy for generations. For example, if a daughter without heirs inherits an ancestral painting from her great-grandfather, when she dies, this painting would go to her husband, or to her parents or her nephews, who surely do not value her sentimental appreciation. Thanks to the trustee substitution, it allows to impose an order on the people for the succession, first one and then the other.

Another scenario where replacing trustees is beneficial is when family relationships are strained, such as with in-laws or sons-in-law. By using this approach, a succession order can be established to prevent assets from ending up in the hands of unwanted people. For example, upon the death of the daughter, the assets would go first to a person designated by her and, in the event of her death, to another predetermined person. This method empowers the testator to maintain control over the succession of assets and defend his original intentions.

The Catalan Trust[6]

Spain’s legal system is organized in a decentralized manner, with the country divided into autonomous communities, each with certain legislative powers (limited to specific matters). In the Catalan Civil Code, an institution strikingly similar to the Czech trust fund can be found, presenting its three main actors: a founder (settlor), an administrator (trustee) and a beneficiary. The property formed within this trust is an autonomous entity without legal personality, and none of the parties involved – the founder, administrator and beneficiary – have ownership or any other real rights.

However, while this concept is very similar to the Czech trust fund, it is uniquely tailored to people with certain disabilities as beneficiaries. In this sense, it is more restrictive than its Czech counterpart, which allows a wider range of beneficiaries.

Practical Application of the Catalan Trust:[7]

Distinguishing between the state law for the protection of people without disabilities and the autonomous law in Cataluña, the former designates property as a distinct and separate entity within the patrimony of the person with disabilities. By contrast, the patrimony protected in Catalan civil law is an independent and separate entity without legal personality or property, like the Czech trust. While this design theoretically offers more protection for disabled people, it does not translate into practice. The challenge lies in the absence of tax benefits associated with this figure. The definition of the law is not aligned with the national tax description, which leaves the Catalan protected heritage in a state of uncertainty in tax matters.


In the world of law and finance, trust funds shine as a beacon of possibility. We’ve explored how these powerful tools can shape your legacy and protect what matters most to you.

In the Czech Republic, trust funds offer a seamless path to inheritance and smart property planning. In Spain, alternatives such as „la fiducia“ and „el fideicomiso“ are not very common and demonstrate a lack of regulation, even so, they can provide certain benefits. And in Cataluña, the initiative to regulate the protection of the assets of disabled people through a trust fund is positive. However, its practical implementation leaves much to be desired.

[1] Articles 1448 to 1474 of the Czech Civil Code.

[2] Article ¿Traduzco ‘trust’ como fideicomiso?” Javier Sancho Durán

[3]Article: La fiducia “cum amico” entre conyuges: el problema tras la crisis familiar“by Eduardo Rodríguez de Brujón y Fernández

[4] Articles 781 to 789 of the Civil Spanish Code

[5] Article “Sustitución fideicomisaria. Mantener los bienes de la herencia en la familia” by María José Arcas-Sariot

[6] Articles 227.1 to 227.9 of the Catalan civil code

[7] Article La triste historia de los patrimonio protegidos en cataluna.“ By Emilio Peréz Pombo, 04/06/2020

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