Our international private wealth team assists clients in protecting and nurturing the growth of their personal and family fortune.
Money is described as the sixth sense, enabling you to enjoy the other five. Yet legal issues relating to personal wealth can make it difficult to maximise it to the fullest. Our team works with clients to resolve the legal and tax headaches associated with personal wealth, giving them more time and freedom to enjoy their success.
Our clients increasingly adopt a holistic approach to their wealth and structures. Charitable, not-for-profit activities and ethos are echoed in investment and trading activities; ESG is not a “nice to have” but embedded in all aspects of strategy.
We advise clients from different backgrounds with different needs, priorities and objectives. We listen and we adapt. We are clear, concise and commercial in our approach.
Our private wealth team spans London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, and Paris. As trusted advisor to clients across the world, we appreciate that managing wealth is a marathon not a sprint. Times change and we are flexible.
We believe that putting our clients at the heart of what we do allows us to deliver excellent service and help them achieve their goals. Wherever our clients’ journey takes them, and at all stages along the way, we are there to help and guide them.
We have built an in-depth understanding of the wealth preservation, family governance, tax and succession planning needs of our clients. Clients come to us for our sector knowledge and experience, ‘can do’ approach, great service levels and attention to detail on implementation. Recent examples of our work include:
UK tax investigations
Representing a client in an HMRC investigation generated by their receipt of his leaked foreign bank account details.
UK tax treatment of foreign pensions
We are renowned for our expertise in foreign pensions and we have advised a large number of individuals and institutions on the UK tax treatment of IPPs, QROPS and QNUPS.
French wealth tax
Advising wealthy private individuals on all aspects of French wealth tax, income tax, trust funds, foundations and similar entities.
Advising bank trustees and independent trustees on trust related matters in Asia.
Advising a number of international families on the creation of family trust structures.
Assisting a family moving from Singapore to the UK restructuring their business, personal and property assets
Cross-border estate planning
Advising families with family members, assets or structures in multiple locations on tax and estate planning matters, working in conjunction with local advisers as part of a team
Advising a high-net-worth Saudi family on DIFC foundations.
Advising HSBC Trustees (Jersey) in relation to UAE Corporation Tax.
Advising multiple families and family offices on the implications of UAE corporation tax on their holding structures and associated restructuring.
Advising a DIFC based family office on "onshoring" their Jersey private trust company structure (which holds the majority of a listed company) to the DIFC. The advice was multi-faceted including creating a bespoke "governance" foundation which acts as protector on family trusts and as guardian of another family foundation. The advice is cross border including, UAE, UK, Jersey, Pakistan, BVI, Isle of Man and Bahamas.
Advising a significant Saudi family on the establishment of a DIFC foundation to act as trustee of several Jersey family trusts. This bespoke family governance structure was one of the first (if not the first) times a DIFC foundation had been established to act as trust (in place of the "usual" private trust company) and involved cross border advice in Jersey, UAE and Saudi.
Advising a leading Emirati family on the establishment of a DIFC foundation to hold the majority share in their family trading group. The foundation was drafted with bespoke co-founder reserved powers and shariah inheritance principles incorporated.
Advising a Middle East royal family on the arrangements with the designer of a new 100m yacht and the tender process for the selection of a suitable builder for the construction of a new giga yacht.
Advising a GCC family on the restructuring of their significant UK property portfolio, transferring the properties held through a family trust out to multiple family branches, advising from a tax and succession perspective.
Advising a prominent family on the relocation of their family office from London to the UAE. This included establishing new structures locally, advising on immigration issues, local real estate issues and preparing local DIFC wills and English Wills.
Advising a businessman who is the CEO of a commodities group based in the MENA region on the structuring of their international wealth, establishing a DIFC foundation, preparing a DIFC Will and advising on the succession of their UAE business.
Assisting numerous clients of a major regional financial institution on UK tax and succession planning issues when investing in UK real estate and advising them on estate administration matters in the UK.
Private wealth disputes
The team has a strong reputation for advising on the most complex and high value trust and family disputes often relating to assets located in multiple jurisdictions held in complex offshore structures. Recognising the inherently personal nature of private wealth disputes, we work with our clients to deliver long term solutions that achieve the best outcome for all involved.
Family estate disputes
Acted for a number of beneficiaries with regards to a deceased family member’s estate. Successfully navigating family dynamics, trust law, multiple jurisdictions and often multiple disciplines.
Family trust – removal of trustee and recovery of assets
Acting for three beneficiaries of a family trust who believe that substantial assets have been misappropriated from the trust, obtaining complex third party disclosure orders and the case is currently proceeding to the privy council.
Trustees and trust beneficiaries – dispute resolution
Advising trust beneficiaries and trustees on alternative dispute resolution techniques for allocating and segregating assets to mitigate the risks of litigation.
Infringement of privacy
Advising on an interim non-disclosure order for a high net worth individual.
We provide tailored advice and support on visa applications through a range of categories covering work, business (innovator and start-up) and visitor visas. We also advise on alternative options such as residency and citizenship by investment schemes available in the EU and Caribbean islands. Our team provides ongoing assistance post grant of visas to assist clients and their dependants to apply to remain in the UK, obtain indefinite leave to remain and British Nationality.
Advised on an entrepreneur visa application for a shareholder of a real estate fund which included review of the business plan and advice on satisfying the Home Office’s “genuine entrepreneur” test.
US tax planning – pre-immigration and expatriation
Advised individuals regarding pre-immigration tax planning prior to obtaining US citizenship or a green card and those looking to abandon US status.
We advise on all aspects of the sale and purchase of prime real estate, as well as acting on a broad spectrum of commercial property transactions.
UK property to house art collection
Advised on the acquisition of a London property to house an art collection, including all of the tax and related legal issues such as drafting the licence for the offshore company that owns the art.
Real estate joint venture
Advising offshore HNWIs on setting up a joint venture and acquiring a London property for redevelopment and sale.
Advised high net worth family on corporate aspects of the refinancing of a high value property.
PRC real estate advice
Assisted the administrator of a large estate in respect of the sale and transfer of real estate property in the People’s Republic of China.
Charities, philanthropy and not for profit
Our philanthropy team has extensive experience of setting up charitable organisations and foundations. We provide advice to donors on the legal and financial implications of charitable giving.
$100 million+ cross-jurisdictional charitable donation
Advised a prominent Hong Kong billionaire on his proposed bequest to a US charity and created two charitable trusts in the UK and Hong Kong.
International charitable organization
Acted for a wealthy family creating an international charitable organization.
Continuous strategic philanthropic advice
Advising an UHNW family on their philanthropic initiatives worth over US$10 million annually.
Our clients own many types of high value assets located around the world. We help navigate the different laws and regulations which govern the ownership, management, protection and transfer of such assets. Our understanding of the business practices, legal requirements, taxation implications, insurance risks and financial needs of the crypto/blockchain, luxury assets and bloodstock industries allows us to provide tailored commercial advice.
Acquisition, transfer and export
We have acted on applications to export art from the UK, and provided advice on allegations of illegal export including challenges to the validity of the acquisition and obtaining release of the sale proceeds.
Advising owners on the construction or purchase of yachts, refit contracts, ownership and operating issues, financing and VAT mitigation structures.
Advising on the purchase of private aircraft including import into the UK, and advice on VAT, customs duty, and remittance issues for the owner.
Family offices and private capital
Family offices are as diverse as the families they represent. Whether clients are setting up a new family office, or already have a long-established family office, or use a multi-family office, we can assist. We specialise in complex structuring with an international angle, particularly where a business or corporate structure is involved.
We advise the principals of this LLP both in respects of the activities of their UK fund management business and also the structuring of their personal wealth generated from that business.
Advising on the creation of a private trust company, family fund and family office for a UHNW family in Singapore, assisting with the development of a governance structure, asset structuring, compliance and regulatory issues.
Family offices and ultra – HNWIs
Advising family offices, ultra-HNWIs and their financial advisors on a variety of regulatory issues arising out of the structuring of their investments.
‘They are completely committed to their work and are available at all hours. There are a series of very bright associates coming through the ranks. As a team they are totally cohesive. The leadership is strong’.
The Legal 500 UK 2023
"Relatively recent, very strong, lateral hires at partner level have transformed this team into a real powerhouse. This has inevitably enabled it to attract and retain strong juniors… Simply brilliant at what it does. The lawyers cut through the usual nonsense and really see the practical point of any litigation issue… This team has a great reputation, and real experience at dealing with complex international private client cases."
The Legal 500 UK 2022
"The team is very professional and has a good reputation in the industry… The team provides very good, clear, practical advice for reasonable and commercial levels of fees. They have the full range of required language capabilities for a full-service global private client offering… The team’s partners seem to work alongside their associates to deliver team solutions, drawing from the best ideas rather than being limited by hierarchy."
The Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022
"The culture of the firm is such that everyone I have met has been approachable, friendly, professional and knowledgeable. Most importantly the advice they provide is presented clearly which is incredibly important to potential clients… I find Stephenson and Harwood a most congenial practice with which to deal. I would say that the team’s main strengths are high levels of expertise and professionalism."
The Legal 500 UK 2022
"Complex issues are set out in a simple/straightforward manner such that clients can overcome the legal narrative to make decisions. Good work ethic across team. Always contactable and willing to go the extra mile for the client."
The Legal 500 UK 2022