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

This CLE webinar 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, Managing Partner
Willow Street Group, Jackson, Wyo.

Ms. Hoeft has spent nearly 25 years in the family office and trust and estate profession. Prior to founding Willow Street, she managed a single-family office, working closely with the family’s advisory team to develop and implement complex wealth transfer strategies.

Holly Isdale, Founder
Wealthaven, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Ms. Isdale is a trusted advisor to some of the wealthiest families in the world and has spent the bulk of her career in the family office, estate and planning arena. Prior to creating Wealthaven, she built and led the estate and financial teams as well as co-heading asset allocation and investment management teams, for some of the largest investment banks. In addition to family office and PTC advisory work, she focuses on governance and succession planning, working directly with family business owners and family offices on the full spectrum of investment, planning and tax related strategies.

Constance Shields, Partner
Withers Worldwide, New Haven, Conn.

Ms. Shields focuses her practice on trusts and estates, and business succession matters for wealthy individuals and their families. She works with trusts and related business structures to preserve, protect and grow family wealth for multiple generations in a tax efficient manner. She is a published author and speaker on a wide array of trust and estate issues.


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Customer Reviews

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Law Offices of Marcia L Kraft

The seminar was very informative and easy to understand.

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Anderson Hunter Law Firm

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Estate Planning Advisory Board

Gary D. Altman

Principal and Founder

Altman & Assoc.

Brian M. Annino


Annino Law Firm

Richard S. Franklin


Franklin Karibjanian & Law

J. Leigh Griffith

Partner and Practice Group Leader - Tax

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis

L. Paul Hood, Jr.

Consultant, Speaker and Author

The University of Toledo Foundation

Denise L. Iocco


Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf

Donna J. Jackson


Donna J. Jackson, Attorney at Law

Salvatore J. LaMendola


Giarmarco Mullins & Horton

Edwin P. Morrow, III, Esq.

Senior Wealth Specialist

Key Private Bank Wealth Advisory Services

Scott K. Tippett


The Tippett Law Firm

Susan M. von Herrmann


Perkins Coie

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