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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 video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

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 PFTC is a separate entity, frequently state-chartered, designed to provide fiduciary services to family members. Generally structured as limited liability companies or corporations, PFTCs are authorized under state law to serve as fiduciary for families.

Several 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 provide. These companies can operate in conjunction with, or in place of, family offices and provide privacy, asset protection planning, flexibility, succession stability for families with significant wealth, and liability protection for trustees.

PFTCs share significant similarities with SPEs and trust protector corporations (TPCs) structured to work with directed trusts. SPEs permit a family to retain control over specific aspects of trust administration while relying on corporate fiduciaries to attend to all other administration tasks. Estate planners should know how to structure and use these stand alone entities to serve high net worth clients.

Listen as our experienced panel discusses the benefits and risks of PFTCs and other separate entities, ownership structures, and state law considerations in setting up PFTCs and other incorporated vehicles for holding family wealth.



  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 to consider in forming a PFTC
  • Traditional family office vs. 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 before establishment of a PFTC
  • Ongoing compliance issues to be addressed after establishment of a PFTC


Aiello, Vincent
Vincent Aiello

Of Counsel
Spencer Fane

Mr. Aiello helps business owners solve legal problems to secure revenue flow and reduce business risks. As a lawyer and...  |  Read More

Flinn, Aaron
Aaron Bradley Flinn

Holland & Knight

Mr. Flinn is a private wealth services attorney in Holland & Knight's Nashville office. Business owners...  |  Read More

Olson, Thomas
Thomas A. Olson

McDermott Will & Emery

Mr. Olson advises high-net-worth individuals and families on estate and tax planning matters. His practice includes...  |  Read More

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