Family Office Group
At Jackson Walker, we provide trusted counsel to some of the most affluent and influential families in Texas. We know the legal considerations that come with significant family wealth are diverse and complicated. That's why we build a relationship with each client, tailoring our services to your unique needs. Of course, every successful relationship is built on trust, and you can depend on us to provide straightforward advice about how to achieve your goals, protect your family's interests and provide for those you care about, both now and for generations to come.
We currently advise family offices and multifamily offices for a distinguished group of clients, many of whom represent the top echelon of wealth in the state. Our clients include pure, liquid asset, billion-dollar family offices and those whose assets are held almost entirely in functioning businesses. Their interests are incredibly varied, ranging from manufacturing, ranching, and oil and gas to technology, real estate, and sports management. Their investments are equally varied, and their holdings span the globe.
One of the greatest advantages of a family office lies in its advisors working together as a team to achieve the client's objectives. Drawing on our depth of experience, we provide comprehensive services in a variety of practice areas, including Tax, Wealth Planning, Corporate & Securities, Real Estate, Aviation, and Litigation. Our firm is rooted in Texas, but we have the global reach to provide services where you need them and when you need them most.
Establishing the office
We have built family offices from the ground up for some of Texas' wealthiest individuals. Taking into account assets, business operations and other factors, we can determine the appropriate structure for the family office to minimize liabilities while maximizing income, gift and estate tax benefits, and operational efficiencies. We can also help integrate family members into the operation as desired and make sure the right people are in place to keep the office running smoothly.
Plenty of lawyers practice corporate and securities law, but very few have the specific expertise to apply business law, tax and estate rules in a complex, family-held context. We have extensive experience creating tax, management and business succession strategies that help our clients preserve wealth and achieve their business and personal goals. We have helped families retain control of their businesses through smart restructuring and tax strategies. We can also help ensure that business assets are transferred smoothly to surviving family members. Where sale or dissolution of the family business is desired, we find tax-efficient solutions for the transfer or liquidation of assets to preserve wealth for future generations.
Protecting your assets
Saving money is one thing, but long-term wealth preservation that involves multiple income streams and planning for the needs of future generations is a much more difficult proposition. We can help craft a comprehensive wealth management strategy that takes into consideration both asset protection and effective tax planning.
An integral part of that strategy is the legitimate, coordinated, and deliberate shielding of assets from claims that may arise from judgments, creditors, divorce, or other events. We have developed significant expertise in helping clients keep their assets in the hands of those for whom they are intended, through the use of asset protection trusts, limited liability entities and other vehicles.
When it comes to tax planning, we look at the big picture and take into account the complex relationships between income and transfer tax laws and transactions that involve closely held businesses, family partnerships, trusts and charitable entities. We are also well versed in the myriad rules surrounding income tax deductions, and we continually review our clients' assets to determine how to maximize tax advantages while minimizing liabilities.
In addition to our expertise in regard to business assets, we have specific experience in the following areas:
- Real estate: Owning real estate brings significant legal considerations; owning properties in multiple locations compounds those concerns. Where and how a property is held has potential income tax, property tax, and wealth transfer implications. Our experienced Real Estate attorneys understand those issues and are able to provide advice on the most efficient manner of purchasing, managing and selling property. We've represented clients and conducted real estate, land use, and financial transactions in 45 states, plus Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, the Bahamas and more. So no matter where you choose to live, work and play, we help you make the most of your real estate investments.
- Family-owned farms and ranches: Preserving family interests in ranches and real estate through the generations has been a focus of our attorneys' attention since the firm's earliest days. Unfortunately, with the rapid growth of our cities and expanding development into rural areas, Texas continues to experience the breakup and loss of family-owned farms, ranches and recreational land. Our attorneys have done groundbreaking work in the area of land conservation, developing innovative strategies to help families preserve their Texas farm and ranchland for generations to come.
- Aircraft and watercraft: The maze of state, local and federal regulations that surround the ownership and operation of a private jet or yacht can take the fun out of these luxury purchases. We remove the obstacles by helping determine the best way to buy, sell, register and manage aircraft and watercraft, including structuring ongoing operations to achieve the best-available state tax treatment.
- Specialized assets: Family wealth takes many forms, including specialized assets such as antiques, art collections, jewelry, and other acquisitions. These sometimes priceless possessions require special consideration. For example, if your passion is sports cars, where you hold title to that vehicle can make a difference. We have experience with all manner of specialized assets and can create efficient solutions for acquiring and preserving the value of these items.
Investment strategies and vehicles
Wherever your investment interests lie, we can help you find the most efficient path to achieving your financial goals. Our attorneys provide valuable expertise on the legal and tax implications of various investment strategies, taking into account the dynamics of a particular family office. The breadth of experience in our Corporate & Securities practice enables us to provide expert advice and assistance in the structuring and negotiating of private investments, with an emphasis on maximizing tax planning and wealth preservation for the family office. As leading lawyers for fund investors, including venture capital and private equity funds, hedge funds and even the most obscure alternative asset funds, we have a thorough understanding of all types of investment vehicles and can assist with the selection, formation and documentation of the investment vehicle that is right for each strategy.
We can also coordinate the investment activities of other family members to maximize opportunities. For example, we have helped family members pool their investments in order to create or participate in private equity ventures. In keeping with our commitment to a team approach, we coordinate with your other professional advisors to achieve a seamless suite of services tailored to your needs.
Our attorneys can also assist with the legal issues involved in the ownership and operations of the companies in your portfolio. This assistance includes everything from general corporate needs (contracts, intellectual property, environmental, immigrations, etc.) to acquisitions (via merger, stock or asset purchases or otherwise) to final exit strategies.
International family offices
For family offices based outside of the United States, strategic investment in the U.S. marketplace affords opportunities for returns and security not always available in other jurisdictions. Ownership by foreign families of U.S. assets is not subject to many restrictions, and there are no capital or currency controls in place, or likely to be established in the open markets available to foreign investors. There are limited areas that are subject to restrictions, such as banking and the ownership of aircraft, and foreign investors can be subject to U.S. securities laws in certain circumstances.
Our attorneys handle transactions that occur in all U.S. states and also cross international borders. Relying upon the skills and experience of attorneys in our International and other practice groups, we are able to provide comprehensive services to our foreign family office groups. Some areas of special expertise include:
- Inbound foreign investments: Many foreign family offices are interested in investments in the United States to diversify their holdings, to take advantage of U.S. markets available for growth and stability, and, at times, to enhance economic returns through currency exchange growth from U.S. dollar investments. Our attorneys are skilled at structuring inbound transactions working with trust companies and the family offices' local and international tax counsel to achieve the client's purposes.
At the same time, the U.S.-related arrangements can limit the ability of the IRS to tax assets and companies located outside the United States. Methods of realizing profits and transferring them to investors outside the U.S. in an efficient and tax effective manner are part of our regular planning and implementation process. Commercial real estate ownership and operation can provide income and growth opportunities in the United States attractive to many family offices (domestic and foreign), and our team can establish proper legal structures, help with negotiation of the acquisition and operation of commercial properties, and assist in the legal issues and contracts for marketing and sale of these properties when clients decide to modify their portfolios.
- EB-5 Regional Centers: The United States' Immigrant Investor Program allows foreign nationals immigration status in return for making investments in targeted new U.S. employment centers. Since its inception, our attorneys have been heavily involved with the program, representing both foreign investors and cities, developers and corporations seeking to establish Regional Centers. With centers now operating throughout the United States, this program provides a unique opportunity for strategic investment.
Wealth transfer planning
You want to leave a lasting legacy; we put your plans into action. We create strategies for ensuring the transfer of wealth in a manner that avoids the division of interests and opportunities for conflict among siblings, family members or future generations. We achieve this by providing organized methods of family business succession, shielding family interests from potential liabilities, developing efficient tax strategies, and structuring assets to accomplish the client's charitable objectives.
An important aspect of this process involves integrating all of the family members into the overall family wealth mission in an appropriate manner as desired by the family. We find that communication and sharing of information is the best method for bringing up generations that will be good stewards of wealth. We work to resolve conflicts that may arise among family members or business partners and to head off disputes before they happen.
Creating an estate plan to secure your legacy for future generations is one of the most important things you'll ever do, and we don't take that lightly. Our experienced Wealth Planning attorneys can help craft an estate and wealth transfer plan that accounts for your specific needs, desires and objectives.
When your wealth management plan includes charitable giving, you want to be sure the money set aside for this purpose achieves your goals. We listen to our clients to gain a thorough understanding of their philanthropic objectives and then develop a strategic plan for fulfilling their wishes while minimizing the impact of income and estate taxes.
To achieve these goals, we can assist with the formation and operation of private foundations, charitable trusts, and other forms of charitable giving. Our Tax attorneys have extensive experience addressing the specific needs of tax-exempt organizations and have represented some of the largest private foundations, associations, and institutions in Texas.
Litigation is a difficult process, but when family relations are involved, the tensions – and emotions – run higher. We understand the challenges and approach these matters with sensitivity and respect while always working to create the best possible outcome for our clients. Some of our specific areas of expertise include the following:
- Corporate litigation: You've worked hard to build your fortune; we work just as hard to protect it. When the family business faces legal challenges, whether from within the family or without, you can rely on the experience of one of the largest litigation groups in the Southwest. We've built a reputation as the "go-to" firm for clients in tough cases across the United States, and we have specific experience representing family-held businesses. Drawing on the broad-based expertise of our Litigation group, we are able to effectively and efficiently defend your interests in any business sector.
- Tax controversy: Facing the IRS is never a pleasant prospect. The agency is backed by the full power and resources of the U.S. government, and contesting an IRS action can be difficult, time consuming, and expensive. To make matters worse, federal estate tax laws are in a state of flux,and recent news articles suggest that high net-worth individuals are being targeted for tax audits like never before.
Fortunately, you don't have to face the IRS alone. We have successfully defended both individuals and corporations in IRS audits and other actions. We are also skilled in IRS alternative dispute resolution procedures. Our goal is to resolve tax controversies in the most efficient manner possible while obtaining a favorable result for our client.
- Fiduciary litigation: Where there is significant wealth, opportunities for conflict often arise in regard to the administration of trusts, estates, partnerships, and other family-owned assets. Our litigation, tax and wealth planning attorneys have extensive experience representing clients in disputes over control of the family business, will contests, guardianship matters, breach of fiduciary duty cases, and other types of litigation associated with administration of estates or trusts.
In many cases, we are able to resolve these disputes without litigation, through mediation, arbitration, and other methods of alternative dispute resolution. We also counsel fiduciaries in the discharge of their duties to minimize the likelihood of litigation. Nevertheless, when litigation does arise, we have the experience to successfully defend our clients in any jurisdiction using innovative approaches and cutting-edge technology to achieve results.
Privacy preservation planning
Advances in technology and digital recordkeeping have made safeguarding privacy more difficult – and important – than ever, and the complexity that often characterizes the holdings of high net worth individuals only compounds this difficulty. Consequently, privacy protection must be considered not in isolation but as part of a comprehensive strategy for asset protection and wealth preservation.
Because we understand that your family's privacy is of the utmost importance, we incorporate privacy preservation into everything we do. We help identify potential risks, both internal and external, and work to align the interests of those who work for the family office with those who control its assets. Our attorneys are well versed in the traditional and advanced planning tools available to safeguard privacy and can help craft a strategy that puts technology to work for you and not against you.
Seeing the whole picture
It's a truism that what you don't know can hurt you. Using our collective experience, we help craft a holistic strategy for achieving your goals that minimizes uncertainties so that you can concentrate on the things that truly matter.
Family Office Group Attorneys:
- Michael J. Baldwin
- Brian Dethrow
- Sam K. Hildebrand
- Brandon C. Janes
- Michael L. Kaufman
- Ronald D. Kerridge
- Bradley S. Knippa
- Sabrina A. McTopy
- Michael F. Meskill
- Marshall B. Miller Jr.
- David B. Parrish
- Nathan T. Smithson
- Michael E. Taten
- Erin N. Tuggle
- Paul E. Vrana