Structuring Private Family Trust Companies and SPEs for High Net Worth Individuals and Families

Evaluating Benefits and Risks, Ownership Structures, and State Law Considerations

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide estate planning counsel and advisers with a practical guide to structuring private family trust companies (PFTCs) and special purpose entities (SPEs) for high net worth individuals and families. The panel will discuss the benefits and risks of PFTCs and other separate entities, describe ownership structures, and detail state law considerations in setting up PFTCs and other incorporated vehicles for holding family wealth.


A powerful estate planning tool for ultra-wealthy families, the private family trust company (PFTC), is a separate entity, frequently state chartered, designed to provide fiduciary services to members of a family. Generally structured as limited liability companies, PFTCs are authorized under state law to serve as a fiduciary for families that qualify under the SEC definition of family and the family office exemption.

A number of states have well-developed legal structures to accommodate PFTCs. These states have relatively similar definitions of family members eligible to be served by the PFTC and the extent of services and transactions a PFTC may engage in providing. These companies can serve in conjunction with, or in place of, family offices, and provide privacy, flexibility and succession stability for families with significant wealth, as well as liability protection for trustees.

PFTCs share significant similarities with SPEs and trust protector corporations (TPCs) structured to work with directed trusts. These entities often provide an attractive alternative to individual or corporate fiduciaries. Estate planners should have a working knowledge of how to structure and use these stand-alone entities to serve high net worth clients.

Listen as our experienced panel provides a practical guide to PFTCs, SPEs and TPCs.



  1. Characteristics of PFTCs
    1. State chartered entity
    2. Authorized to serve as a fiduciary
    3. Exempt from SEC registration requirements
    4. Limited to serving one family
  2. PFTC formation considerations
    1. Capital requirements
    2. Public disclosures
    3. Domicile or physical presence
  3. States with PFTC statutes
  4. Transitioning from family office structure to PFTC
  5. SPEs/TPCs as alternatives to PFTC structures


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Capital requirements and state regulatory burdens if chartered to consider in forming a PFTC
  • Transitioning from a traditional family office to a PFTC structure
  • How PFTCs allow for family members to have greater involvement in structuring investment management policies and decisions than is permissible with an individual or corporate trustee
  • Operational and corporate governance issues to be addressed prior to establishment of a PFTC


Barbara J. Hoeft
Barbara J. Hoeft

Managing Partner
Willow Street Group

Ms. Hoeft has spent nearly 25 years in the family office and trust and estate profession. Prior to founding...  |  Read More

Holly Isdale
Holly Isdale


Ms. Isdale is a trusted advisor to some of the wealthiest families in the world and has spent the bulk of her career in...  |  Read More

Constance Shields
Constance Shields

Withers Worldwide

Ms. Shields focuses her practice on trusts and estates, and business succession matters for wealthy individuals and...  |  Read More

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