Family Offices

Family offices, and the high-net-worth families they serve, face a unique set of legal issues that require sophisticated, multi-disciplinary advice. Patterson Belknap’s Family Office team provides a full range of services focused on meeting the evolving needs of family offices, high-net-worth families and individuals, and related charitable activities.

Operating from a single office in New York, our trusts and estates, tax-exempt organizations, tax, and corporate attorneys collaborate seamlessly to provide a single point of contact for a wide range of family office legal concerns. Serving as trusted advisors to our clients, we provide family offices with holistic and tailored advice on a broad array of issues, including structuring family offices and investments; SEC compliance; complex tax arrangements; estate planning and charitable giving; risk mitigation; and philanthropic structuring, among other issues.

As a full-service law firm, our real estate, intellectual property, employment law, and employee benefits attorneys have significant experience advising our clients on the diverse operational requirements of family offices. When our clients’ assets include valuable collections of art, attorneys in our nationally-recognized Art and Museum Law practice provide guidance on a range of issues, including the most appropriate way to value works of art for a variety of purposes, including tax and estate planning. And should the need arise, members of our leading litigation practice are attuned to the unique problems and challenges facing both family offices and tax-exempt organizations, and we regularly consult with them to resolve disputes long before they reach litigation.

Our legal services for family offices include:

Trust and Estate Administration and Planning

  • Multi-generational trust and estate planning, including advice on techniques designed to minimize estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes and federal, state and local income taxes
  • Advice regarding governance of family trusts and investment entities, including trust modifications and consideration of directed trust structures, family governing entities, and private trust companies
  • Fiduciary advice to executors and trustees, including probate and estate and trust administration and accounting matters

Tax-Exempt Organizations

  • Ongoing compliance with tax and regulatory matters and governance and fiduciary matters
  • Advice on philanthropic activities including grantmaking, advocacy, conservation easements, endowments, named gifts, cross-border philanthropy, impact investing, and joint ventures
  • Structuring charitable gifts
  • Advice on multi-generational philanthropic strategies
  • Development of and structuring of complex philanthropic vehicles to maximize potential impact, including private family foundations, donor advised funds (DAFs), limited liability companies, and other multi-entity structures
  • Advice on the compliance and fiduciary issues associated with implementing and maintaining program and mission-related investment programs to increase impact


  • Individual, trust, corporate and partnership tax planning and compliance
  • Tax planning for charitable gifts
  • Advising both U.S. and non-U.S. clients on cross-border income tax matters
  • Representing clients in connection with audits and appeals

Corporate Law

  • Formation and maintenance of entities for estate planning and business purposes
  • Succession planning for family businesses
  • Review and negotiation of public and private investments, including investments in hedge funds, venture capital funds, debt funds, real estate funds, and private equity funds
  • Review and negotiation of personal and commercial credit facilities
  • SEC compliance for family offices, corporate executives, insiders and large investors, including preparation of Forms 3, 4 and 5, Form 144, Form 13F, Form 13H, Schedule 13D and Schedule 13G
  • Advice on Intellectual Property (IP) transactions and related counseling, including IP licensing, IP disputes and infringement, concerns about publicity, and other intellectual property ownership issues

Art & Museum Law

  • Review and negotiation of private and auction consignment sales agreements
  • Structuring gifts of art to museums and other charitable institutions
  • Advice in connection with art assets held in estates, trusts and foundations

Real Estate

  • Purchases, sales, joint ventures, leasing, financing and gifts of real estate held for personal use or investment (whether residential or commercial)
  • Administration of real estate in estates, trusts and foundations
  • Architect agreements, construction agreements, co-tenancy agreements and conservation easements

Employment and Employee Benefits Law

  • Review and negotiation of employment contracts for key employees and severance agreements for departing employees
  • Creation or updating of personnel handbooks and prevention training relating to discrimination and harassment claims in the workplace
  • Advice in connection with household employees, including hiring, firing, benefits and compliance with employment, tax and other regulatory matters