Is the Lack of Trusts an Impediment for Expanding Business Opportunities in Latin America?


The trust is considered one of the most useful legal structures for promoting business in the United States. In Latin America, in contrast, the trust ("fideicomiso") has been used only in limited circumstances in the commercial and financial realms. While the Anglo-American trust is an exceedingly flexible and pragmatic legal tool, the Latin American fideicomiso has been described as a rigid and outdated institution. Business and legal experts have determined that the lack of an Anglo-American-type trust in Latin America is one of the major obstacles that investors face when attempting to do business in the region. In order for the Latin American fideicomiso to serve the needs of present-day business interests and thereby promote development and growth in Latin America, legal scholars in both Latin America and the United States must better understand both types of institutions.

This article identifies the main similarities and differences between the Anglo-American trust and the Latin American fideicomiso. Special attention is given to the core differences between both institutions, in order to assess the possibility of creating a truly useful Latin American fideicomiso. For this purpose, the article reviews existing fideicomiso legislation in Latin America, and advances suggestions for future proposals in this area.


Banking and Finance Law | Estates and Trusts | International Law | International Trade Law

Date of this Version

January 2007