Trustees, executors and fiduciaries
It's a great honor and responsibility to be entrusted to manage and dispense wealth on behalf of others. As the rules regarding investments, accounting and taxes get ever more complex, it's vital that you understand what powers and responsibilities you do or don't have.
This is particularly critical when interests in multiple jurisdictions around the world are involved, as hasty decisions can trigger punitive tax consequences which could otherwise be prevented.
We have acted for many generations of executors and trustees and our team is available to guide you through the different rules and decisions you must deal with. With 17 offices globally, we are particularly skilled on cross-border matters involving complex questions of tax, as well as advising trustees and executors on claims brought against them by beneficiaries or third parties.
Given your fiduciary duty to the trust’s or the estate’s beneficiaries, you may be particularly vulnerable to claims of breach of duty, and in certain circumstances, this can lead to personal exposure to a claim. We help manage risk for a wide cross-section of trustee clients. We act in ‘friendly’ disputes, where the court simply gives guidance on how best to resolve a particular trust or estate problem; but if the matter cannot be sorted out or the parties are ‘hostile’, we prosecute or defend on behalf of our client as necessary.
Our in-house trust corporation, WITCO, has a full-time team who can act as executor or trustee for UK wills and trusts, and we have extensive contacts throughout the onshore and offshore world of trust management.
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, separation and finances
Financial matters can be one of the most stressful aspects of a separation. Our highly experienced team will set a clear strategy and work hard to achieve the fairest possible arrangements.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.
Allegations of wrongdoing are extremely concerning for trust beneficiaries, trustees and executors. With long experience of trusts around the world, our lawyers offer smart, practical advice.Inheritance, estate and gift taxes
Whether your assets are based solely in your home country or spread around the world, we can help with inheritance tax planning so that the authorities do not take more than their fair share.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.
We can help you to identify the right structure to hold your wealth, find the right global location to establish it, and stress-test it robustly so your assets are well protected for the future.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.
Trustees of two BVI Trusts
We are instructed by the trustees of two BVI trusts worth in excess of US$400 million, who are currently undergoing a restructuring exercise involving assets in multiple jurisdictions. Recent issues relating to this matter have involved a discussion of parental rights in the BVI.
Murakami Takako v Astoeti Gunanto
Acting on behalf of an executor of an estate and obtaining a Mareva injunction over assets in Singapore on the basis of a claim for the return of sales proceeds by a solicitor acting for the estate.
Advice following the Madoff investment scandal
Following the Madoff scandal we advised the investment arm of a bank trustee with numerous Central and Latin American settlors / beneficiaries who had exposure to Madoff.
Misrepresentation to Swiss trustees
A Protector misrepresented to Swiss trustees that the primary beneficiaries had agreed that very substantial trust assets should be appointed out to a secondary beneficiary (a close relative of his) on the basis that he would provide for the primary beneficiaries. Later the primary beneficiaries requested the trustees for help. Withers advised the trustees on taking steps to set aside the transfer to him.
Mexican multigenerational trust
Using insurance, we worked on the tax-deferred dissolution of our client's substantial multigenerational trust structure alongside Mexican counsel.
New Zealand trustees
Assisting New Zealand trustees on the implications for the trust arising from an underlying multi-million litigation between the beneficiaries.
A Jersey trust
Advised the trustee of a Jersey trust, working alongside US colleagues, on the conversion of that trust to a grantor trust for US tax purposes while walking the fine-line to preserve the favourable tax regime of the trust for UK tax purposes and avoiding triggering UK tax issues on the conversion.
We advised many clients and trustees on the steps to take prior to the non-dom reforms, particularly in relation to trusts established by individuals who became deemed domiciled for all tax purposes on 6 April 2017.
We represented numerous private fiduciaries in matters related to the management, leasing and sale of trust real estate assets.
Defending a Cyprus-based trustee
We are defending a Cyprus-based trustee who faces beneficiary claims of USD$150 million in the British Virgin Islands Commercial Court.
Wee Chiaw Sek Anna
Representing the sole executor of the estate of the late Ng Hock Seng, we successfully defended a claim by Ng Li-Ann Genevieve for a share of alleged matrimonial property, based on fraud, breach of trust and unjust enrichment.
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.
Paul Hewitt and Phineas Hirsch worked with Jersey advocates for the RSPCA, Cancer Research UK and RAF Benevolent Fund in securing an order that Mrs Ivelaw had retained her English domicile of origin after many years living in Belgium and that she had not intended to revoke an earlier Jersey will benefitting the three charities when she made a later Belgian will.
Offshore trustee in divorce proceedings
Advising a blue-chip offshore trust company on its involvement in English divorce proceedings concerning attacks on trusts worth over £25m. We handled the disclosure issues for the trustee and eventually the case was concluded without the trustee being formally joined to the English proceedings.
Swiss Trustees and a Swiss Bank
Advising Swiss trustees and a Swiss bank on the recovery of assets relating to unravelling an appointment upon the discovery of a fraud on a family trust and on the assets in the estate of the deceased settler in the sum of approximately £400m.
Truro Trust and the PF Life Interest Trust
Advising the Trustees in the recently reported Jersey case of the Truro Trust and the PF Life Interest Trust as to whether or not they should submit to the jurisdiction of the English Court in divorce proceedings between a husband and wife. The Royal Court of Jersey endorsed the decision of the Trustees not to submit to the jurisdiction and approved their stance in relation to the provision of information.
An estate executor
Withers has extensive experience and knowledge of inheritance tax issues around the world. This means that we are often called to step in when problems arise. One executor of a will came to us when he wanted to take action against his late spouse's solicitor. We were able successfully to argue that the solicitor had failed to effectively advise about US tax liabilities on the spouse's worldwide assets during the making of her UK will.
26 September 2022 | Article
Charity Commission of England and Wales to “fundamentally shift” communication with charities by engaging better with individual trustees
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Typical clients and industries include
Beneficiaries and heirsWhatever you have inherited, and wherever it is in the world, our leading team of lawyers can help you to protect the value of the asset, manage the tax implications and resolving any disputes. Find Out More
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
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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