Family governance

We understand the natural tendency for wealth to be dissipated after three generations unless a structure and a process are put in place to preserve it. Ultra high net worth families cannot expect to create a dynasty simply by setting up a trust.

The successful transition of wealth from one generation to the next is critical.  For those families with significant wealth, there may or may not be a family office in place to help achieve this transition.  We can advise on the options for establishing family offices but we can also help formulate family governance and dynastic planning.

Whether the holding vehicle for a family's wealth is a company, trust or other entity, we can help identify the core values for a family. 

This can include decisions in principle on:

  • how to run the family business
  • how to identify heirs in successive generations
  • how to provide for other children
  • whether spouses should benefit
  • how wealth is to be invested and distributed
  • how to minimise tax.

Family governance can be addressed in a single document, such as a family charter between members that sets out the common goals or it can be reflected in a more complex series of steps including private trust company structures, family councils and advisory boards, shareholders' agreements, articles of association and trust resolutions to document the principles.

Our team have experience of a variety of approaches to governance and dynastic planning and can help determine which is best for any particular family to control the devolution of family wealth from one generation to the next.

Our expertise covers UK families and international families and institutions particularly in the US, Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Switzerland, Russia and Europe.  We understand the important cultural issues in the jurisdictions in which our clients operate and have a breadth of experience which enables us to recognise and avoid situations where family conflict can lead to wealth dissipation.

The structures that we help create represent the most sophisticated and unique wealth solutions available and employ the most up-to-date legal and commercial thinking.

Forsters' Private Client practice is top ranked in the latest editions of The Chambers HNW Guide.

Forsters’ Asia team win ‘Estate Planning Team of the Year’ for Greater China at the WealthBriefingAsia Awards 2024

Named ‘Estate Planning Team of the Year’ (Greater China) at the 2024 Wealth Briefing Asia Awards, Forsters Private Wealth Asia team were recognised for their unique approach to advising HNW individuals and families, trustees and family offices in the region on international cross-border estate and succession planning.

WealthBriefing Asia Awards

The Life Cycle of Family Wealth

From growing a business to starting a family or handing over control of that business to the next generation, every individual has their own goals to aspire to. Our Private Wealth lawyers advise our clients throughout this family life cycle, providing the legal advice required for specific transactions such as purchasing a home or selling a business, whilst also advising on the long-term opportunities for succession and estate planning.

Forsters' Private Wealth - The Life Cycle of Family Wealth logo

Private Client 2021 - Lexology - Getting The Deal Through

In Lexology Getting the Deal Through's Private Client 2021 guide, Forsters' Private Wealth team have outlined the important estate planning issues that international clients need to consider if they wish to invest in or come to the UK.

A busy international motorway scene from above

Sustainable Investments – a guide for trustees and family offices

As we move towards a period of post-lockdown global recovery, many wealthy individuals and families will be looking at how they can use their wealth to contribute to a more sustainable future for the benefit of their own families and others.

Invest for Sustainability

Family Governance in the Digital Age

A practical checklist for the post-Covid world. The Covid-19 pandemic has had two major implications for family governance structures.

Family Governance in the Digital Age

Our Insights

"The great thing is that the support is always there if you need it, from partners to paralegals, and working with my fantastic colleagues helps me overcome whatever challenges I may have!"
Anthony Goodmaker, Senior Associate, Commercial Real Estate