Which Trust Jurisdiction Is Right For You?

The adoption of the Alaska Trust Act in 1997 established Alaska as the first state to allow for self-settled or domestic asset protection trusts. Since then, both Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware have continued to pass innovative statutes which promote unique trust planning opportunities. Peak Trust Company remains closely involved in the continuing development of trust law in all three states in which Peak Trust Company operates.

Both Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware all have similar statutes, both being top trust jurisdictions. Among other advantages, both Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware all allow self-settled trusts, permit perpetual trusts, and have no state income tax imposed on trusts.* The choice of one over the other comes down to what specifically a grantor is trying to accomplish with the trust along with the preferences of the client and the attorney.

What makes a “top-tier” jurisdiction?

In 1997, Alaska was the first state to modernize its laws to provide better estate planning options and attract national trust business. Since 1997, both Alaska and Nevada have made further enhancements to trust statutes and today are considered to be two of the leading states in the field. Currently, there are four “top-tier” jurisdictions that compete for the majority of trust business nationwide. Leading industry opinions vary as to which of the “top four” is the best, but all agree that Alaska, Nevada, Delaware, and South Dakota are the preeminent trust planning jurisdictions in the nation today.

Any state needs all three of these elements to be considered a competitive “top-tier” jurisdiction:

  • The state must permit long-term trusts and other modern trust planning techniques such as self-settled trusts.
  • The state cannot impose an income or similar tax on trusts located in the state.*
  • The state must have a number of sophisticated professionals able to service the industry.


Alaska, Nevada, and Delaware each have all these basic requirements and much more.