Beneficiaries and heirs
Regardless of whether the bequest consists of land and property, a business, cultural assets, a financial endowment or a mixture of several of these, you will want to know how best to safeguard the value of it. We are proud to act for new wealth creators as well as generations of successful families since we were founded in 1896. As a result, there are few issues we have not encountered and advised on.
Managing tax liabilities
Gift tax, estate tax, transfer taxes, wealth taxes and other forms of capital tax could all be due on an estate, depending on the circumstances. Our international team is one of the leading groups for advising on the structuring of estates to manage tax. Trusts and foundations are hugely useful for efficient wealth and succession planning if they are properly set up and managed and, we can provide a truly global perspective.
Resolving inheritance disputes
Succession disputes are unfortunately all too common, and it is frequently the case that the larger the estate in question, the more sources of contention tend to emerge. We have one of the largest international teams dedicated to dealing with such issues as they arise, or with such disputes where no internal resolution is possible. International inheritance fights can be particularly complex and must be handled very carefully to avoid a host of unwanted and unforeseen consequences. Using tools such as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are also effective ways of ensuring that an estate is protected.
When you have secured your bequest, you may want to give some thought to ways in which it can be used to benefit your community and others around the world. We can advise you on the variety of options for establishing a philanthropic enterprise and the right way to structure your giving to avoid triggering punitive legal and financial implications.
How we can help
We are highly experienced in handling claims against estate administrators. Our leading team can identify any wrongdoing and advise on remedies. We also regularly act for fiduciaries themselves.Court of Protection
We are here for you in the difficult situation where someone has lost capacity to take key decisions for themselves, routinely bringing and defending applications in the UK Court of Protection.Divorce and family
At difficult moments in life, you need the best advice available. As one of the largest and most experienced teams of family and divorce lawyers in the world, we’re here to help you through.Estate planning, wills and succession
Whether you wish to protect family assets, navigate cross-border tax issues or benefit a good cause, our private client lawyers will discuss your priorities, advise on options and put a plan in place.
From small companies to global brands, we understand the dynamics of family businesses and what makes them special. We offer a rounded view on everything from tax to succession planning.Philanthropy
There is no single approach to philanthropy; what’s key is that your giving has the biggest impact possible. Whichever way you choose to donate, our team can advise on what is most effective.Probate and estate administration
At a time of loss, it is important to avoid a drawn-out administrative process. Our leading lawyers offer a seamless service, helping families, executors and trustees to handle complex estates.Problems with trustees
Where there are concerns about trustees and other fiduciaries, it is important to act quickly. We advise beneficiaries and trustees on a range of disputes and can help you to get a resolution.
As one of the largest teams of trust, estate and inheritance dispute lawyers in the world, we draw on extensive experience to explore your succession dispute and find the best available solution.Wealth structuring
We help individuals, families and their advisors to plan for the future, establishing priorities and finding solutions. And we offer seamless support for those with international interests.Will, estate and legacy disputes
As one of the only global law firms with a team dedicated purely to succession disputes, we offer families, friends, executors and charities guidance on all manner of challenges to wills.
Cross border cases involving Chinese third party interests
Our team regularly assist in cross-border issues, particularly in cases involving the People's Republic of China (PRC), leading the team in cases involving complicated legal argument and third parties’ interests in assets both in Hong Kong, the PRC and overseas.
Dispute over matrimonial property
We were involved in a well-known case frequently cited in subsequent cases in Singapore and beyond. We successfully acted on behalf of the husband in a dispute over matrimonial property, whereby the court exempt the Trust setup by the husband from the pool of matrimonial assets. The trust provided protection towards their children, including a son who has special needs as he suffers from Williams syndrome.
Preparing a Will
Preparing a Will in respect of a terminally ill individual with assets in jurisdictions including Hong Kong, Singapore and the US (value in excess of US$500m). The Will created a testamentary trust that, following the administration of the estate, allowed for assets to be decanted to a US trust. Following the testator’s death, we oversaw the administration of the estate.
Estate of a 32 generation family
We advised a family on the most appropriate structure to hold an estate that has been in the family for 32 generations. A complex matter, the family wanted the estate to be held by all of their children rather than one ‘heir’ but for the ‘rules’ of ownership and transfer to be clear and fair and ensure that the family asset is retained.
Settlement agreement between heirs
Negotiating and implementing a settlement agreement between heirs, based both in the UK and in Italy, for a high net worth individual in the context of a succession whereby Italian forced heirship rules applied.
Beneficiary/trustee dispute over luxury brands
We advised a beneficiary of a trust who was in dispute with another beneficiary and the trustee who was holding shares in a luxury fashion brand worth over Euro30m. Court proceedings were ongoing in England and Italy, involving our London and Milan offices, before the trustee was successfully replaced and the other issues between the parties compromised to avoid publicity over the businesses involved.
Broadhead v Spread Trustee Company (Guernsey)
We acted for a beneficiary in proceedings concerning trustee negligence in relation to investment losses. It is believed to be the first case in the Channel Islands courts to consider the question of what degree of knowledge will prevent a beneficiary bringing a breach of trust claim beyond the time period required by statute.
Heir to a publishing fortune
Withers represented one of the heirs to a publishing fortune in a case arising out of a dispute with his children over the administration of various family trusts. Withers successfully resolved the dispute through alternative dispute resolution in California avoiding a costly court battle and prolonged family discord.
Sons of the late Lynda Bellingham
Acting for Michael and Robert Peluso, the two adult sons of the late Lynda Bellingham. The dispute over her estate received extensive coverage. In May 2017, we reached an agreement with her widower, Michael Pattemore.
The F Trust and the A Settlement (Bermuda)
We acted for the beneficiaries of two trusts in this ground-breaking application under newly-enacted Bermuda law provisions dealing with mistakes by trustees and other power-holders in relation to trusts. Despite the application being contested by the UK tax authority it was successful and the adverse consequences that the trusts had suffered were unwound.
UK child entitled to cross-border estate
We acted for the son of a deceased German businessman who was entitled to a share of a cross-border estate worth in excess of £35m. The case raised complex conflict of law issues over the deceased's Will and arguments from some of the heirs that the son had no entitlement. We co-ordinated simultaneous proceedings in England and Germany and the case was ultimately settled out of court.
Vindis v Collins & Ors
We act for the adult children of the late Nigel Vindis whose will left most of his estate, including his 50% share in the highly successful Vindis plc on discretionary trusts for a class of beneficiaries. Nigel's sisters claimed to be entitled to half the share. At the same time his estranged widow issued a claim for financial provision. Working with their mother's solicitors we secured the 50% shareholding for the nuclear family.
An art heir
We represented the son and heir of a well-known American painter in cases arising out of a major art fraud worth an estimated $100 million. Our client had been among numerous victims of a Manhattan dealer who had committed the deceit to fund his extravagant lifestyle.
Beneficiaries of the K Trust
Acting for the adult beneficiaries in the matter of the K Trust with local advocates. The Guernsey Royal Court sanctioned removing a protector for the first time (following similar principles established in Jersey, where we acted, in the matter of the A Trust and the B Trust).
19 October 2023 | Event
Webinar Series | HK & US estate / trust planning, expatriation and cross-border probate
26 September 2022 | Article
UK Government consultation on beneficiaries of the £738m Dormant Assets Scheme
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Typical clients and industries include
Families and family officesFamilies call on us when they want a firm that understands their needs – whether they are looking to pass down wealth, set up and run a family office, or make their mark through philanthropy. Find Out More
Family businessesFrom small companies to global brands, we understand the dynamics of family businesses and what makes them special. We offer a rounded view on everything from tax to succession planning. Find Out More
High net worth individualsWith complex interests that often span several jurisdictions, highly successful people need seamless advice. With a full-service offering across our offices around the world, we provide just that. Find Out More
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