Lawyers for families and family offices
The total wealth held by family offices is unknown, due to the private approach taken to invest and manage their capital, but it is estimated to be in the tens of trillions of US$. The scale of activities undertaken by family offices is also very broad, from single family offices focused on the needs of one family's wealth to multi-family offices providing a range of professional services.
Guiding you through the issuesWe have been helping successful families since Withers was founded in 1896, and excel in advising on the numerous legal and emotional issues associated with managing, protecting and passing on your wealth. Our extensive experience in working with family offices means we can advise on not just how best to establish and manage your family office, but also where best to geographically situate its operations. The question of location is often a difficult and strategic decision, carrying with it various tax implications. With offices across the US, Asia and Europe, we are here to help you navigate these concerns.
Investment perspectivesWe have a dedicated funds, investment and tax team, including lawyers with corporate, tax and trust experience, enabling us to provide targeted investment structuring advice. We work with our clients on the establishment, operation and tax treatment of the full range of investments and collective investment schemes; we can advise clients from the perspective of fund principal and/or manager, as well as that of fund investor.
You may be considering the most appropriate tax efficient structures to hold your assets, such as domestic and international trusts and foundations, private trust companies, or in offshore jurisdictions around the world. We are well placed to point out the potential issues and solutions in each instance and to guide you through the decision-making process.
Assembling the right teamAn essential part of running an effective family office is finding people with the right skills. We frequently work with family offices on the recruitment of key personnel, including the negotiation of employment agreements, and the development of deferred compensation structures designed to align the interests of the employee with those of the family.
Mitigating riskFamily offices face numerous sources of risk, including investment loss or devaluation, compliance failure, tax investigations or changes of regulations and compliance failures. When you find yourself under investigation from regulators, or needing to launch a law suit against another party, our international dispute resolution team is available to assist on litigation of all sizes.
And finally, we have extensive experience of advising successful international families on protecting their reputation. The international media has never been more fascinated by, and suspicious of, the activities of the wealthy, and our media and reputation team has acted for many years both for and against the media, in cutting-edge cases involving reputation issues, including defamation, malicious falsehood, harassment, privacy and confidentiality.
How we can help
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.Employment
From negotiating contracts to advising on the best way to handle a crisis, our highly experienced employment lawyers are here to help, working for employers and senior executives alike.Family businesses
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.Investment structuring
Successful people frequently call on our comprehensive knowledge of investment classes from art to complex financial products. Our teams around the world can handle tax, regulatory and cross-border issues.
The publication of private or inaccurate information can seriously damage reputations. Should the worst happen, our media law team will quickly advise on how to mitigate any potential impact.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.Private equity
As the go-to law firm for private capital, we act for funds, family offices and companies in transactions around the world – with experience in diverse sectors from fashion to life sciences.Tax
With a team of more than 150 specialist tax lawyers, who are qualified in jurisdictions around the world, we are perfectly placed to handle even the most complex, cross-border tax issues.
Our leading trust and estate disputes lawyers have seen all manner of conflicts in jurisdictions around the world and will think several steps ahead to identify the strongest possible strategy.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.
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A family constitution in Indonesia
Acting for an Indonesian family in relation to the implementation of a family constitution to provide a framework and qualification requirements in relation to family trusts.
Implementing a family constitution in India
We acted for an Indian family in relation to the implementation of a family constitution to regulate accession and qualification requirements to the family business and distribution policy in respect of family trusts.
Greece based family office
Worked for a Greece based family office of a family with USD 3 billion of shipping, mining, commodity trading and real-estate assets on the establishment of Cayman and Bermuda based private trust company structures for the segregated protection and ongoing management of their personal and business interests in such a way that they are protected from domestic risks.
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.
Brazilian family offshore structuring
We worked alongside Brazilian counsel to advise a client on the FATCA and CRS reporting requirements applicable to their complex succession structure for his offshore assets. These included a private trust company, trusts, companies and other entities, a private investment fund and multiple investment accounts, and involved the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and the US. The advice also needed to take into account the client's plans to relocate his family from Brazil to London, and possibly thereafter to New York City.
Chilean US family tax work
Working with a Chilean–US family, we helped to address compliance deficiencies in their family wealth succession planning structure. Small modifications to the structure substantially decreased US annual taxation and simplified reporting, addressing the US family members' income tax, FBAR and FATCA reporting issues. We also liaised with Chilean banks to quickly unfreeze needed accounts.
Colombian family IRS case
We represented a Colombian family with interests in Colombia and Brazil, which had been briefly stationed in the United States, with a delicate IRS matter. We assisted the family in negotiating a penalty abatement of upwards of US$1.6 million in potential penalties, and all of the IRS meetings and negotiations were addressed without clients needing to be physically present in the United States.
Mexican multigenerational trust
Using insurance, we worked on the tax-deferred dissolution of our client's substantial multigenerational trust structure alongside Mexican counsel.
Venezuelan dairy investment
A family office, based in Florida, USA, carrying out an underlying investment in the Venezuelan dairy sector sought our advice on the deal.
Billionaire Mexican family
Creating multiple trusts, and private trust company arrangements to govern them, for a billionaire Mexican family to ensure compliance, confidentiality and efficiency in the management of their non-Mexican assets.
Aided a Brazilian family with significant US commercial real estate holdings to restructure the ownership of this property to avoid US estate tax. Also devised arrangements for Brazilian residents to create legitimate structures that are protected from Brazilian taxation, permit efficient repatriation of capital to Brazil when needed and ensure optimal flexibility and family control to respond to changing needs and tax laws in the future.
Clients in Chile, Mexico and Venezuela
Advised clients with cross-border interests in relation to the construction of private trust company structures, which effectively allowed for family business succession planning, cost reduction and greater control over certain trust decisions and tax minimization in the jurisdiction of domicile and internationally.
Colombian family offshore assets
Advised on the restructuring of a Colombian family's offshore assets in connection with Colombian tax reform.
Colombian family's US passport surrender
Advised a Colombian family on the surrender of their US passports in order to come into compliance with their US tax and reporting obligations and thereby cease to be subject to US compliance in a highly tax efficient manner.
One of the wealthiest families in Argentina
Advised on the creation of a long term governance and succession planning structure for one of the wealthiest families in Argentina in order to ensure family control of the business across generations, educate younger generation family members on governance responsibilities and protect the value of the holdings.
Structuring trusts for wealthy Argentine family
Represented a wealthy Argentine family to structure trusts for both their personal and business interests. Our planning allowed this family to minimize domestic wealth tax, ensure compliance with US tax regulations, form a voting trust for the family business and facilitate commercial lending transactions.
Swiss family office
Advised a Swiss family office on the structuring of an investment in UK commercial real estate - our multi-disciplinary team of colleagues with expertise in commercial real estate, corporate law and banking law worked to structure and document the funding arrangements to avoid triggering a taxable remittance to the UK by the principle.
US children of Peruvian parents
Creating US revocable and irrevocable trusts for the US children of Peruvian parents to enable the children to benefit from their parents' Peruvian wealth without causing US estate taxation and optimal income taxation.
US satellite family office
Set up a US satellite family office for a wealthy Peruvian family to facilitate their US investments.
Venezuelan family in relocation
Advised on the sale of assets in Venezuela and global residency, immigration and planning needs for a Venezuelan family needing to temporarily or permanently leave their country.
Venezuelan family's assets
Acted for a Venezuelan family concerned about security and control of the family's assets now and for future generations. This resulted in a comprehensive restructuring of their worldwide assets, including the reorganization of existing trusts and creation of a flexible set of arrangements for the migration of trusts to separate jurisdictions for different beneficiaries.
Heirs to pharmaceutical company fortune
Represented heirs to the fortune from a pharmaceutical company in a dispute concerning control of the family office and competing claims of breach of fiduciary duty. After completing all pre-trial discovery and motion practice, Withers successfully negotiated a settlement for the heirs without the need for a costly and public trial in California state court.
Managing Canadian-US reporting obligations
A Canadian-US family living on both sides of the US-Canadian border asked us to assist with US reporting deficiencies (FBAR, FATCA, income tax returns, entity reporting, etc), where the potential IRS penalties well exceeded USD $1 million. We successfully negotiated full penalty waiver on all missed reporting forms for all impacted family members.
Protecting family wealth in a US-Canadian marriage
The child of a wealthy Canadian family moved to the United States and married. We advised the family on protecting their assets and created trust structures sufficiently flexible to grow with the child and the child's emergent new family needs, while avoiding inclusion in the child's US estate and minimizing a potential divorce settlement payout. This included optimizing various in-bound real estate investments as the family purchased, exchanged and extensively renovated properties.
A wealthy Kazakh family
We advised a wealthy a Kazakh family and set up a wealth planning structure designed to tax efficiently fund family members residing in the UK.
Multi generational South East Asia family
We were instructed by this family, consisting of several members spanning two generations, in relation to setting up a private trust company structure (PTC). The PTC acts as a trustee of a master trust to hold the family office, family business and family investment entity. The beneficiaries of the master trust were a series of "feeder" trusts established for the benefit of each of the family members and their respective families together with a number of charitable entities. In addition, we advised the family on establishing a sophisticated governance structure, including a family council and family constitution.
North Asian family
Assisting and advising this family based in Taiwan with extensive business interests and assets in multiple jurisdictions. Advice includes a multi-disciplinary team covering succession planning, immigration and cross-border investment.
Swiss-based family office in a corporate control contest
We represented a Swiss-based family office in a corporate control contest involving a California-based US$500 million private company in the coatings business. The company has an independent Board of Directors and is owned by three significant minority owners and widely dispersed current and former employees. Our work involved M&A, corporate governance, finance, complex contracts, tax and offensive corporate litigation. We drew on our New Haven, Greenwich and Los Angeles lawyers and implemented a partial contingent billing arrangement.
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.
A South American family
We worked with a South American family with significant business interests when they chose to liquidate holdings in a multi-billion dollar business outside their home country. The family wanted to diversify their exposure and explore more sophisticated investment opportunities. We advised on the creation of a holding structure for their investments and helped them to establish a family office, based in New York, to advise it.
An international family
Withers represents many successful families who live and work in countries around the world. We are sometimes asked to advise on contracts for personal staff who travel with the family, in this particular case when there were immigration issues to address.
A family partnership
Withers advised a family office when they wished to implement a 'tracking' partnership basis. Our team pooled the family's high-value investments into a single entity structure but allowing each family member to allocate their investments to the assets that suited them best. This tax-efficient structure was tailored to the individual financial needs of each member, their tax status and goals.
A high-profile family
A prominent non-US family contacted Withers for advice on creating tax efficient structures to help them invest in US property and business. Withers' years of invaluable experience in this area allowed us to help them to navigate their tax liabilities in the US and their country of domicile, avoiding a potential 'double tax' bill.
Our reputation for tax advice is second to none. This was exemplified when several major investment houses and family offices turned to Withers to advise on the tax efficiency of their investment products and to seek the optimal way of mitigating liabilities in investments.
Evolving families around the worldEnsuring family is protected and provided for motivates us all to prepare for the future. Each family has its own needs and in a fast-changing world, with many families based across several locations, it can be challenging to address all of the risks and complexities.
With the right guidance, planning for tomorrow can deliver long term protection.
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