Holland & Knight's Family Office Services Group, which includes attorneys and professionals from many practices across the firm, regularly provides guidance and advice regarding the best structure to suit the family's objectives, whether it be starting with a virtual family office, creating a single family office or even a private trust company. We act as private general counsel to families and work with them to form the appropriate family office structure, develop the documentation for its governance and suggest best practices for day-to-day management.
Beyond having extensive experience in virtually all of the legal issues family offices encounter, additional focal points of our practice include succession planning and crafting agreements among family members, such as family constitutions. We represent a multitude of closely held businesses and provide counsel on complex shareholder and operating agreements. This often enables those who contribute the most to the welfare and betterment of the family to be rewarded appropriately in the form of buyouts and preferred status while still providing security to the family members who choose different paths.
Determining what services should be performed in-house or hired out, subsequent coordination of the suite of professional advisors and assuring continuity of services are important parts of the discussion that our attorneys facilitate with our family office clients.
A well planned and maintained family office structure should enhance the value of the family's resources, letting the family live well without being burdened by an inefficient structure. In addition, having a "bird's-eye view" of the structure to see how it works while the decision makers are living should not be underestimated.
The origins of family office structures include privately owned entities established by wealthy families to manage their wealth, plan for their families' financial future, engage in investment opportunities and provide other services to family members. With so much at stake, Holland & Knight provides a complete suite of services aimed at ensuring the proper management of the family office from an administrative standpoint. Many families of wealth have come to realize the numerous benefits of establishing a structured family office, including:
Not all family offices provide comprehensive services. For example, income tax reporting may continue to be handled by longtime accountants. Similarly, some family offices oversee concierge services, such as home construction projects, while others decline to provide personal services to the family. Our lawyers help evaluate the interests of the fiduciaries and beneficiaries to minimize the potential for conflict. Sometimes, a senior generation wealth provider is the sole point person for investments and decision-making, with no designated back up in the event of incapacity or death, and no mechanism for creating or funding an administrative structure. In such situations, we proactively discuss with clients the potential for loss of value and confidence if there is no structure or source of funding in place in the event of incapacity or death of the senior generation provider. We work with clients to determine when and how to create the structure to be operational and have the confidence of the family when the senior generation provider is no longer living.
Holland & Knight attorneys have extensive experience structuring family offices to permit deductibility of its expenses. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the rules that previously permitted deductions for expenses incurred for the production of income. Accordingly, the distinction between business expenses and investment expenses has assumed a greater significance, and we regularly work with family offices to best position the enterprise as an operating business enabling the family office to claim an ordinary and necessary business expense deduction.
The professionals in our Family Office Services Group routinely develop custom techniques to protect clients' wealth from potential liability, including promoting transparent and conflict-free transitions among generations in closely held businesses. We tailor plans for family members, giving consideration to the business impact, tax liabilities, personal risks, insurance coverage, asset holdings and philanthropy.
High-net-worth families also turn to Holland & Knight for our experience with sophisticated trust, administrative and estate planning. Our lawyers employ varied strategies to successfully protect and transfer wealth to family members and/or charities.
By necessity, our services extend beyond structure, operations, investment coordination and records management, into domestic and international tax, creditor protection, incentivizing family office personnel, labor and employment matters for domestic workers, nondisclosure agreements, regulatory matters, prenuptial agreement and divorce questions, real estate matters, architect agreements, insurance, art, aircraft, boats and intellectual property. Above all, discretion and privacy are paramount.
A 360-degree review addresses the gap between business planning and estate planning. We provide a formal analysis of a client's existing business structure and governing entity documents, current estate plan, cash flow from all sources, charitable goals, income tax issues, planning strategies to minimize transfer taxes, liquidity issues, domicile, distribution of collectibles, family business succession planning and exit strategies.
Many of our competitors offer separate groups of lawyers that do not take a global approach to the family and do not understand the family and its needs. Other firms may refer a trust or estate dispute to a general litigator. At Holland & Knight, we work with our fiduciary litigation team that exclusively practices in this area. Additionally, across the firm, our professionals have a depth of experience in handling the unique needs of family office clients.
We are committed to the long-term safeguarding of our clients' comprehensive interests – no matter what area of the law, business or family issues are involved. Our Family Office Services Group leverages the various practices and skills of more than 1,400 lawyers and other professionals practicing in Holland & Knight's 27 offices throughout the world.
Our clients utilize our Family Office Services Group to efficiently harmonize their family, businesses, investments, advisors, homes, fiduciaries and philanthropy. We do so by delivering industry-leading, customized services while working collaboratively with the family, its family office and its advisors.
Our attorneys' dedication to proactively anticipating our clients' needs and providing the highest level of responsive service gives Holland & Knight clients the confidence that their family's integrity and assets will be protected and preserved for generations.
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