Overview

Mayer Brown’s Private Clients, Trusts & Estates team provides sophisticated domestic and global wealth management strategies to high-net-worth individuals and families, fiduciaries, and tax-exempt organizations. We offer a full range of estate planning, family office representation, trust and estate administration, litigation and dispute resolution, and charitable advisory services.

Many of our clients have assets, investments, and family members dispersed across the globe. Our team members are strategically located in Asia, Europe, and the Americas to coordinate seamless, customized solutions to our clients’ wealth management needs. They benefit from the full complement of legal services that an integrated, multi-disciplined firm can offer.

Preserving, maximizing, and transferring wealth, while minimizing complications through planning, is one of our team’s strengths. Using our deep knowledge of national, state, and international laws, both tax and non-tax, that govern the transfer and management of assets, we provide advice that goes beyond minimizing taxes. We formulate practical and effective solutions to complex issues, solutions with the flexibility to accommodate unforeseen family situations and other events.

We offer extensive services in the following areas:

Estate Planning

Our team provides sophisticated planning advice to individuals and families who have accumulated significant wealth to facilitate the succession and distribution of their assets to future generations with minimum domestic or international tax implications and maximum benefit for family members. We build strong relationships with our clients and customize estate plans to meet their unique needs and objectives.

We design, draft and implement a wide range of legal documents and estate and wealth planning vehicles, including wills, living wills, revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney for property and for health, and charitable gift agreements. In the United States, we also assist with dynasty or “perpetual” trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), intentionally defective grantor trusts (IDGTs), qualified personal residence trusts (QPRTs), charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts.

Our team’s global presence provides us with significant experience in complex cross-border estate planning. Our sophisticated, tax-efficient cross-border advice protects family wealth and assets in multiple jurisdictions for future generations. Our advice includes estate planning for those who reside outside their country of citizenship or have family members in multiple countries structuring the ownership of global assets through trusts or other entities; and helping people relocate residency or assets, as well as invest in new assets, in a jurisdiction other than their country of citizenship. We also ensure regulatory compliance and disclosure requirements are satisfied in all jurisdictions. 

Family Office Representation

We help wealthy families combine their resources in family offices to achieve economic efficiencies and synergies in such areas as investment management, trust services, tax compliance, legal services, and expense/bill payment. We structure each family office depending on the particular circumstances of each family as well as the family’s need for a formal entity structure, professional staff, clerical support, office space, and other features. Our team uses the full complement of resources of Mayer Brown’s global, multi-disciplined platform to address the complex needs of each family office, including entity structure and formation, tax structure, private investments, regulatory compliance, SEC compliance, governance, litigation, banking and finance, corporate law, labor and employment, real estate, intellectual property, and cybersecurity/data privacy.

Trust and Estate Administration

From crafting complex trusts and estates, we have developed a deep understanding of what it takes to efficiently administer them. We know that effective trust and estate administration is a function of many factors, particularly a deep knowledge of income, gift, and estate tax laws across multiple jurisdictions. Our counsel to fiduciaries includes probate administration, trust administration, preparation of tax returns, preparation of accountings, and termination and distribution of estates and trusts.

Trust and Estate Litigation

Our team represents individuals, families, and fiduciaries in a variety of trust and estate litigation, including controversies over will and trust construction and alleged breaches of fiduciary responsibilities. We combine our significant experience in estate planning and estate and trust administration with our advocacy skills to successfully mediate or litigate these matters. Particularly when controversies arise between family members, sensitivity to familial dynamics is crucial. And our team is very well-suited to bring estate and trust controversies to successful and amicable conclusions.

Tax-Exempt Organizations

Tax-exempt organizations provide immeasurable charitable, educational, and cultural benefits to communities worldwide. Our team represents various types of tax-exempt organizations, including private non-operating foundations, private operating foundations, public charities, supporting organizations, sponsoring organizations of donor-advised funds, university endowments, hospital endowments, corporate foundations and community foundations.

We offer our tax-exempt organization clients the full complement of Mayer Brown’s legal services, including counsel on entity structure and formation, tax qualification, ongoing tax and regulatory compliance, governance, regulatory audits and investigations, internal investigations, planned giving/fundraising, endowments, litigation, banking and finance, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, private investments, labor and employment, real estate, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and cybersecurity/data privacy.

We ensure that our clients effectively navigate the complex array of national and state laws and regulations that must be strictly followed in all aspects of administering tax-exempt organizations and thereby avoid harsh results such as the loss of the organization's tax-exempt status and substantial penalties on the people (board members and staff) who are responsible for these organizations.

Distinctions

Chambers USA

Mayer Brown has "…an outstanding skill set and knowledge, the promptness of the communication and delivery of work product is notable…." and states "[T]he folks there at all levels [are] at the highest level of quality technically, and the way they present their work product is focused on making it understandable for the end client," and "a strong wealth management practice, which is skilled in representing wealthy individuals and families." Chambers quotes a client who says we are "[t]echnically very good and I find their service to be top-notch in terms of speed of response and responsiveness."

Additionally, Chambers says our "group has a strong following and is lauded for its client-oriented service and advice. The relatively compact team handles a whole host of matters, including trust and estate planning, complex family disputes, public charities and private foundations" and recommends us for Client Service: "This team is attentive and extremely responsive, and provides materials and follow-up communications on time. It is always apparent that the partners are focused on addressing each client's needs and concerns."

Chambers also recommends us for Commercial Awareness: "Mayer Brown utilizes sound judgment to recommend appropriate solutions. The partners do not resort to cookie-cutter responses and also do not over-prescribe; instead they show creativity in offering alternatives and explaining the costs and benefits of each for easier decision-making. What we value in particular is that they provide practical and effective solutions to complex issues while maintaining flexibility to accommodate unforeseen events and family situations."