The Business Registration Service (BRS), a State agency under the Attorney-General's office, has taken on the responsibility of registering trusts following the recent enactment of new legislation.

This shift in duties was formalised after President William Ruto signed the Statute Laws (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act, 2024, last month, thereby transferring the function from the Ministry of Lands.

The amendment to the Trustees (Perpetual Succession) Act facilitated this transition, effectively moving the registration responsibilities from the State Department of Lands and Physical Planning to the BRS.

"Effective Wednesday 22nd May 2024 the State Department for Lands and Physical Planning shall cease receiving applications for registration and incorporation of trusts," stated BRS director-general Kenneth Gathuma.

This change impacts trusts managed by trustees appointed by various bodies or associations established for religious, educational, literary, scientific, social, athletic, or charitable purposes.

It also includes trustees who have formed themselves for such purposes or are managing a pension fund.

The move expands the remit of the BRS, which already handles the registration of companies, partnerships, and business names.

The fee for registering a trust is set at Sh10,000, a figure that remains unchanged despite the transfer of responsibilities.

Trusts, which are legal arrangements allowing a trustee to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary, have seen growing popularity in Kenya as a means of effective estate management.

A notable change in the trust landscape occurred with the 2021 amendment to the Trustees (Perpetual Succession) (Amendment) Act, introducing new categories, including family trusts.

Once assets are placed into a family trust, they no longer remain personal property but become the property of the trust itself.

"The primary objective of a family trust is to create or preserve wealth for future generations, rather than operating as a trading entity," explained law firm Bowmans in their analysis.

Analysts have observed that the advantages offered by trusts, including benefits accruing during the lifetime of the individual, have contributed to their rising popularity.

This legislative change and the ensuing transfer of duties to the BRS mark a significant development in the governance and management of trusts in Kenya.