“If you want a say in what happens to your wealth after your death you need to plan for it in your lifetime” - Simon Phelps, Partner – Private Client

Succession planning, wills & probate

A key concern for wealthy individuals and entrepreneurs is the fear that their wealth will be wasted or misused by their heirs, or be a burden to them. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is expert at putting in place structures and safeguards to prevent or minimise these risks, whilst keeping estates as simple as possible to manage.

Estate and succession planning is a central part of the advice we provide to our clients, often implementing that advice on the transfer of wealth to the next generation and beyond.

We are tier-1 ranked for personal tax, trusts and probate by independent legal directory ‘Legal 500’ in the UK. In the US we have been given a National tier-1 ranking for Trusts & Estates Law by US News & World Report and Best Lawyers®  in its 2020 “Best Law Firms” rankings. In the last 5 years, wealth owners, their families and other advisers have relied on us on over 3000 projects relating to succession planning, wills and cross-border probate.

Specifically, we help clients in areas such as:

  • International asset holding structures to govern succession to business and personal wealth
  • Planning for the succession to family businesses
  • Wills for UK, US and worldwide assets
  • Estate planning for UK assets of non-UK individuals
  • Estate planning for US assets of non-US persons
  • Post-death estate/gift/inheritance tax mitigation
  • Retirement benefit planning
  • Irrevocable insurance trusts/life insurance planning
  • Cross-border conflicts of succession laws
  • Probate and estate administration for cross-border estates
  • Disputes relating to cross-border estates
  • Enduring and Lasting Powers of Attorney – including acting for attorneys and deputies
  • Guardianships/conservatorships
  • Pre and post nuptial agreements
  • Medicaid/Medicare trust planning

Case studies

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    Succession and investment plans that comply with Shari’a law

    Our Muslim client wanted to establish a Shari’a compliant governance and succession structure for his family’s trading group.

    We worked closely with Shari’a scholars and the family to create a structure that reflected the family’s wishes and complied with Shari’a law – both in terms of succession and investment.

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    A family constitution agreed by the family is more likely to be applied by the family

    Our client wanted to make sure that his children benefitted from his wealth but didn’t become reliant on it, and still fulfilled their potential. We discussed his wishes with the family and drew up a family constitution that set out how, when and to what extent family members should benefit.

    The involvement of the family in the process means that they are more likely to keep to the stated wishes in the long term, and less likely to fall out.

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    Multiple wills can simplify your estate, but not necessarily during your lifetime

    Our clients, a relatively young couple with young children, had a mix of assets in several jurisdictions but no Wills. We considered putting in place separate Wills for each jurisdiction but that would have added significant cost and complexity, with little likely benefit.

    Instead we prepared a worldwide Will that covers the relevant jurisdictions and set a date to consider multiple Wills in five years’ time.

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    Assets held in a trust can be used during probate

    Our UK client planned to sell her business and invest the proceeds in a range of private equity investments. We advised her to put part of her shareholding in a UK trust prior to sale.

    This should protect that portion of her wealth from future claims, and on the event of her death, provide a pool of liquid assets her family can use while her estate is in probate.  It may also provide a long term trust for future grandchildren.

"They deal with things helpfully and smoothly. I am delighted with them; they are nice people to deal with, very good at what they do, and hugely well respected.”

Chambers UK 2016 – Private Client

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