Wills & succession planning

We have over 150 lawyers worldwide who concentrate on wills and succession planning for families. We advise on lifetime gifts, inter-vivos and post-mortem estate plans and issues related to the management and taxation of inter-generational transfer strategies.

We work to provide sophisticated advice to ensure that gift, estate, generation-skipping transfer taxes, wealth taxes and other forms of capital tax are minimized while endeavoring to maximize family flexibility when dealing with these issues. Structures may be designed to reduce future creditor risk, whether commercial or as a result of divorce or other family calamity.

While we tend to focus on issues related to the UK and US, we also undertake planning for international families, in particular from Russia and the CIS, and where appropriate, work with local experts in those jurisdictions where we may not be admitted.

We have qualified US, UK, Italian and Russian tax lawyers in Europe, English solicitors in the US, and UK, US and Hong Kong qualified lawyers in Hong Kong, so sophisticated advice from those jurisdictions can, in case of need, be rendered promptly and in the client's home time zone.

Succession planning in every country differs enormously. As do perceptions around succession planning - for example around 70% of the British people don't have a will. Whilst many people understand the importance of having a will and estate plan to safeguard their family's future, more often than not, making a one remains on the ‘too difficult' pile. When those individuals are living and working in a country they were not born in, this can often make the decision making process even harder.

FOCUS, along with Withers, an international law firm with specialist knowledge in cross-border estates and international succession, have put together a survey to help understand awareness levels of this important issue for foreign nationals living in the UK.

If you have not already participated in this survey, please click here. Key findings from the survey will be published here in March.

Recent work 

  • Advising a client selling a very valuable work of art on the most appropriate tax and gift- planning strategies, bearing in mind a significant charitable intent on the part of the family. Beneficiaries of the plan included family members, charitable trusts and a family-created charitable foundation. Significant tax savings were realized for family members resident in three different jurisdictions.
  • Structuring a basket of different asset classes in a number of countries to minimize death duties for the client and to provide for the orderly transfer of those assets to future generations in a form in which the integrity of the underlying holding was maintained.
  • Advising a Middle Eastern client with substantial investment assets in Western Europe and the United States in order to minimize death duties in the countries where such assets were owned and to structure the estate plan in conformity with applicable Sharia rules.

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