Family offices
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    International Legal Team of the Year (large firm) - STEP Private Client Awards 2018

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Family offices

We know that family offices are as diverse as the families they represent, but whether you are thinking of setting up a new family office, are a long established family office, or are a multi-family office, our award winning team can help.
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We make it simple: our team of brilliant general practitioners, focused on the private wealth and family office sector, are supported by top class specialist teams – whatever legal, regulatory or tax challenge you are facing, we can help. 

We speak your language: our family office team sits within our corporate group alongside our corporate tax and VAT experts. As a City firm we understand business and that our clients are part of an inherited or entrepreneurial success story. We want to help you make and retain your wealth.

We can be as involved as you want: you can instruct us on a discrete matter or involve us in the minutiae of your family affairs and make us an offsite virtual member of your in-house team as part of a long term relationship.

We are international: with eight offices across Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, we have fluent English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese, Arabic and Malay speakers.

We can help you with:

  • the creation of a single family office platform including compliance and regulatory issues
  • structuring for wealth preservation including wills and the creation of offshore trusts, foundations, companies and other vehicles
  • the transition of wealth to the next generation including family constitutions and governance agreements
  • investment and co-invest structuring and tax advice, whether by creating a fund, or through corporate, or other structures
  • business acquisitions or disposals, including takeover panel expertise
  • real estate acquisition, financing, structuring, tax or disputes
  • employment and immigration advice including domestic staff
  • advice on global transparency regimes, including CRS, FATCA and beneficial ownership registers
  • philanthropy
  • disputes in relation to your business, investments, or trust structures
  • all aspects of luxury assets whether that is buying, financing, structuring ownership, disputes including over provenance, importing, or exporting
  • incentives for the family office executives to align their objectives with those of the family.

“Strong client focused team that wants to clearly understand each client’s situation so that it can identify the best solution for that client.”

The Legal 500 UK 2019


Advising an Ultra High-Net-Worth (UHNW) family on the structuring of their family business and international assets including creating two new structures to hold the family’s London real estate assets and advising on the use of a trust to ensure the protection and transfer of the family business to future generations. We are also reviewing their existing structures to create more streamlined versions which meet their overall objectives without unnecessary complexity.

Family governance

Advising an UHNW family on their family governance which included advising the family on issues such as how to involve future generations in the family business, how family members are to be appointed to certain roles in the trust structures and within the family business, how and when distributions are to be made to the family members from the trusts, and how family conflicts are to be resolved. Once the family members had agreed on how issues relating to the family are to be dealt with, drafting the family constitution to set out how these issues are to be dealt.

Investment and co-invest structuring

Advising the family office of a wealthy individual on various investments into UK real estate including a co-investment with another family office. This has included advice on how to structure new investments, review of existing structures following legislative changes and advice on disposal of the investments. The advice covers the position of the structure itself but also of the individual as shareholder in the entities or settlor of the trust, in particular in respect of remittances and the availability of business investment relief.

Real estate

Advising as the virtual in-house legal adviser to a multi billionaire’s family office including advice on estate and trusts planning, real estate, M&A, litigation and corporate tax.


Acting for the beneficiaries of a discretionary family trust seeking an account and disclosure of information about the trust and its assets. Proceedings were initially issued in the BVI, before being appealed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and ultimately the dispute was resolved in the Privy Council with a win for our clients. The Privy Council decision gave important clarification over two key trust law principles – the presumptions over gratuitous transfers of property to trustees and the Court’s powers to set aside a discretionary appointment of trust assets.

Business acquisitions or disposals

Acting in respect of the disposal of a UK family business following the death of the founder; using our corporate, real estate and tax teams, we were able to achieve a successful sale for the family, allowing them to move forwards independently of each other.

Global transparency

Advising on the impact of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), FATCA, the UK Persons of Significant Control register and the UK Trust Registration Service on a complex family owned structure, including analysis of the reporting to be carried out in respect of their family trusts, as well as their stand-alone corporate entities. We have also considered how to control the information flow to ensure accurate information is being reported and provided advice on where the family members are tax resident, so as to clarify where the CRS reporting will be sent.


Advising on the set up and regulation of a multi-family office structured as a partnership, involving carried interests.


Advising on the establishment of English and Hong Kong charities and tax relief for a philanthropic donation in excess of $100 million.

Latest news & insights

02 Jun 2023

From News

Stephenson Harwood wins four awards at WealthBriefingAsia & Greater China Awards 2023

Law firm Stephenson Harwood LLP has won four awards at the WealthBriefingAsia & Greater China Awards 2023, which were held in Singapore.


01 Jun 2023

From Insights

Hong Kong highlights philanthropy in new family office tax regime 香港家族办公室税收豁免机制强调发展慈善事业

The long-awaited tax concession scheme for family offices in Hong Kong was passed and came into effect on 19 May 2023


04 Apr 2023

From Insights

The proposed family office tax exemption regime in Hong Kong: a comparative view

Hong Kong seems determined to go "head to head" with Singapore in attracting global family offices to bring their wealth to the city.


20 Mar 2023

From Insights

Wealth management updates: Take with one hand and give with the other! Changes to residency routes in Singapore

To attract more highly skilled foreign investors, professionals, and talent, Singapore has introduced a range of initiatives to boost foreign investment and complement..


24 Jun 2022

From Insights

"Common Prosperity" In China: What does it mean for philanthropy 浅谈“共同富裕”与中国公益事业

Since the announcement of the "Common Prosperity" policy in China we have seen billions donated by the country's leading entrepreneurs.


18 Jan 2022

From Insights

Family offices and tax incentives

Singapore has established itself as one of the leading wealth management and private banking centres globally and in Asia. With sound financial regulation, strong rule..


© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.