Private client

Withers has represented successful individuals and families for over a century.

Today, we are the only global law firm dedicated to the personal and private capital needs of high net worth individuals and families.

Many of our clients’ interests are purely domestic. Others are international families with interests in a number of locations. In a fast-moving and increasingly compliance focused world, the need for integrated advice that reaches across borders has never been greater. With offices across Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific we provide coverage that other law firms in this area cannot match. We continually look for opportunities to ensure we have a strong presence in the locations where our clients live, work and invest.

Whether you require advice on legal and tax structuring for your business and investments, family and business governance, tax and estate planning or help with a vulnerable person in your family, we will deliver tailored solutions to meet your specific needs.

Clients from every walk of life

Our clients have achieved success in many fields, from senior executives to multi-generational families, to owners, managers and investors in private capital and some of the world’s wealthiest people. In Europe we have represented 51% of The Sunday Times top 100 Rich List and over 25% of The Forbes World’s Billionaires List in the US; in Asia we act for 30% of the top 20 Hong Kong billionaires on Forbes World’s Billionaires List.

We act not just as lawyers but trusted advisers, looking to build strong relationships with yourself and other professionals advising you. This is one of the reasons we are proud to have been asked to represent families down the generations.

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UK Trust Register


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Recognition

Ranked in Band 1 for private client for the last 16 years

Leading firm - Private wealth law in the USA

Leading firm - Band 1 for private wealth law in China

Leading firm - Band 1 for private wealth law in Singapore

Leading firm - Band 1 for private wealth law in London

Leading firm - Private wealth law in Switzerland

Leading firm for private wealth

Ranked in top tier for personal tax, trust and probate

UK top 25 private client law firm 2017

3 time winner of 'best private client law firm'

Leading firm - Private wealth law in the USA

Ranked for wealth management by Chambers USA 2015

Ranked for wealth management by Chambers USA 2014

Leading firm - Band 1 for private client law in Singapore

Leading firm - Band 1 for private client in Hong Kong

Winner of best legal team in Hong Kong

Recognized on the 2018 Best Lawyers' Best Law Firms list.

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Our reputation has been built on quality of service, integrity and building a long term partnership with our clients. Withers shares these values and their input from Hong Kong and London has made an important contribution to our success over recent years.

Bentley Reid
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The advice I receive is excellent. The team is very responsible, responsive, competent, pleasant to deal with and earned my trust. I would recommend Withers highly.

Robert Cohn, retired Founder and CEO - Octel Communications Corporation
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Our aim is to help our clients stay at the cutting edge of the market, and we expect our legal partners to have a sophisticated global view that provides our clients with accurate and cost-efficient solutions to their legal problems. We have worked with Withers for many years.

AB
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We enjoy working with a dynamic US/UK legal team in London and now collaborate across a wide range of practices within the firm. Acting together, we are able to offer advice on virtually every aspect of a client’s tax and financial planning.

Buzzacott
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Withers is the law firm we look to for legal issues for our US/UK clients; often with a complex tax background. The firm’s depth of knowledge and experience is excellent, on all trust and tax related legal issues, including tax controversy.

Julian Nelberg, Director - PwC
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We share with Withers a determination to help families to optimise their vision for the future. Withers’ broad experience in working with both domestic and international families makes the firm an ideal partner, and we don’t hesitate to recommend them to our clients.

Pitcairn

The future of non-doms


There have been lots of changes to the way in which UK non-doms are taxed, and Italy recently introduced a new non-dom regime. Our dedicated feature brings you the latest on these developments.

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Meet the team

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How the private client team can help

Track record

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.

The US-born son of a UK businessman

When he became engaged to a Swiss citizen, the son of a high-profile UK businessman asked us to help him obtain a British Passport and expatriate from the US. We were also asked to draft a prenuptial agreement. Timing was of the essence but as a global, full-service firm we created a team of immigration, family and private client lawyers to meet tight deadlines.

Blenheim Palace

The trustees wished to transfer the business of opening the Palace to the public, to a new charity that would allow for the maximization of revenue through gift aid receipts and increased access to grants. Our cross-departmental team put together an innovative structure that allowed the often competing obligations and requirements of the Charity Commission, HMRC and the Palace to be met and the charity opened for business in 2017.

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.

Managing unexpected wealth

A married couple who held shares in a US company came to us after coming into considerable wealth when it was sold. We helped them to handle the complex tax obligation arising from the windfall and advised on how to protect their privacy. We also discussed routes to philanthropic giving, an area that they were keen to explore and one in which Withers has considerable experience.

International football manager

We advised the manager of an international football club to negotiate a very complex scenario around the taxation of image rights, where the negotiating parties had very different backgrounds and interests and rules between the UK and their European country of residence varied greatly. Our multilingual team in the UK were able to liaise with the team in his home country to provide a seamless solution. Image rights are a classic area where one needs to understand both sides of the common law/civil law equation, which few firms could have provided.

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.

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.

Prominent Russian Family

We advised a prominent Russian family on establishing international private wealth holding structures in Switzerland, US, UK, Italy and Cyprus.

A wealthy European family

A European family asked us to create an overarching trust structure to hold their commercial interests in the UK, Greece, Cyprus, Singapore and elsewhere. Resident in Monaco and London, the family needed the structure to operate as an estate plan, enabling wealth to be passed between generations. This was all done in conjunction with a family constitution governing the management of their wealth.

Post mortem globe trotting

A typical case involved co-ordinating multi-jurisdictional succession and probate processes in a large international estate that had a global spread of beneficiaries with individual tax and asset allocation requirements. We successfully defended a challenge by HMRC to the deceased's domicile status, dealt with the presentation of a complex double tax treaty claim relating to immediate estate and Inheritance taxes, advised on the management of cross jurisdictional income and capital gains tax exposure during the administration period and on conflicts of laws issues impacting on the burden of tax liabilities, generally.

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.

Chilean businessman

Represented a prominent Chilean businessman to secure and sustain his assets for his US-born descendants by allowing him to avoid US estate tax and reduce his Chilean property tax payments using usufruct transactions.

High-net-worth individual relocating to Italy

We advised our client, who was formerly living in the UK, in his relocation to Italy under the new Italian resident non-domiciled regime, which he has been authorized status of. This was the first green light issued from the Italian tax authorities on the newly-introduced regime, made possible by our cross border team in Milan and London.

Cross border issues relating to Dementia

When our client was diagnosed with an aggressive form of early onset dementia, he was forced to retire earlier than he or his family had expected and planned for. Leaving his job overseas and relocating to the UK brought about greater difficulties. We assisted his children as their father's attorney in resolving a complex retirement and permanent health insurance package with his employers. We also made an application to the Court of Protection for its approval of the package.

An ultra high-net-worth Asian family

Our Singapore office helped a wealthy Asian family to design and implement a wealth-holding structure that would segregate assets of different classes. Our clients hoped to rationalise a disparate set of holding structures, protect their assets and implement some effective family governance, and we were able to meet all their objectives.

A Channel Island company

Our client, a company based in the Channel Islands, was the owner of a significant property in London, for which we had been advising them on a long-running planning dispute to transform the site, which had been decommissioned as a hospital. When a decision was made to in fact sell the property, it was anticipated there would be significant liability to capital gains tax on the basis that it would be treated as a residential property.  By detailed analysis of the legislation we were able to advise that the property should not be subject to tax on sale.

Representing Canadian entrepreneur

Our client is a prominent Canadian entrepreneur with US ties, who we have advised for over a decade. Amongst an array of legal services, this has included coordinating her worldwide succession planning structure and advising on postnuptial co-ordination for her second marriage to protect her substantial global business interests.

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.

The estate of a leading British retailer

We assisted in the probate and estate administration of a member of the family behind a successful British retail business. The deceased was UK resident ‘non dom’, but with arguable common law domicile, and survived by a spouse, children and grandchildren. He held assets globally, some within a complex web of lifetime trusts, and had made wills in different jurisdictions. We managed the difficult domicile claim, co-ordinated probate applications globally and balanced the dynastic plan for the business.

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.

Brazilian family

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'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.

Colombian family offshore assets

Advised on the restructuring of a Colombian family's offshore assets in connection with Colombian tax reform.

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.

Financial institutions in Mexico

Advised major financial institutions in and outside of Mexico on the use of sophisticated tax compliant investment structures for their private clients to deal with ongoing developments in Mexican and international tax compliance regimes.

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.

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.

First Italian non-dom

A team in Milan and London delivered the first successful application for non-dom status in Italy to a client and his family.

Clients domiciled in India and Pakistan

Advising a number of clients who are domiciled in India and Pakistan on the structure of their wills to maximize the possibility of tax treaties with the UK applying on death. This can protect UK assets from charges to UK inheritance tax notwithstanding the clients being UK deemed domiciled through long term residence.

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