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Family Foundations


Family-owned businesses may decide to establish a foundation for a variety of reasons. The objective might be to safeguard family assets beyond the outgoing generation, to prevent the business from being split up in the event of divorce or death, or to prevent creditors from accessing the assets. In many cases, there are also income tax or inheritance tax reasons for establishing a family foundation or non-profit foundation.

Customised solutions for your family foundation

Our experts on foundations advise business owners, family firms and family offices on selecting and designing a suitable form of foundation, establishing the foundation (including the foundation’s statutes, management board contracts and investment guidelines) and in all ongoing legal and tax matters associated with a family foundation or non-profit foundation.

Based on an in-depth analysis of the asset situation and the structure of the family firm(s) involved, we recommend establishing a non-profit foundation, a family foundation or a trust, as appropriate. If the client opts for an international solution, we bring in relevant experts from the international CMS Private Clients Specialty Group.

Family foundations and private wealth planning

The primary purpose of a family foundation is to safeguard the interests of the family business or of several families. A family foundation therefore usually forms part of private estate planning or corporate succession. In such cases it serves to avoid fragmentation of company assets and to make financial provision for family members, e.g. in the form of regular distributions.

Advising family foundations

Our advice on foundations focuses on:

  • Establishment of family foundations and corporate foundations
  • Foundation solutions for corporate succession
  • Foreign foundation structures and trusts
  • Ongoing advice for family foundations

In this sensitive area of family foundations, our Private Clients practice acts as an expert advisor, drawing on our long experience and in-depth understanding of foundations to support you at all times.

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April 2020
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