What is a Family Office? And Do You Need One For Your Divorce?

If you’re in an Ultra High Net Worth marriage (with your assets at the £30 million-plus mark), it’s worth considering setting up a family office as you navigate divorce. 

In What is a Family Office? And Do You Need One For Your Divorce? we will look at what a family office is, and how it can help you manage your wealth during divorce.

What is a Family Office?

Essentially a family office is a one-stop outsourced solution for your financial, business, and legal family-related needs. Ultra-high net worth individuals typically set up a family office to handle the full range of matters.  Investment, planning, wealth transfer, charitable giving, and tax advisory activities can be looked after.

A family office can offer broader support than a private bank, often offering specialist concierge services as well as management of investment portfolios. 

A family office may be set up for a single family, or it may serve a small number of high net worth families. In either case, the family office can be dynamic, drawing on specialist expertise in response to a specific family’s current situation. 

A Manager of Specialists

A Family Office provides a personalised service to manage your wealth effectively. They are a private, advisory office answerable only to you. A Family Office will co-ordinate the specialist legal and financial expertise you need. Providing tailored advice and solutions to your specific wealth issue. A family office will have an international outlook, and be able to work with private specialists across numerous legal jurisdictions where necessary.

In financial and legal dealings, including within divorce, decisions in one area will create ripple effects across your whole wealth portfolio. A family office can be responsible for the whole piece, ensuring that your financial negotiations take into account every aspect of your situation. 

What this means is that you only liaise deal with one trusted specialist, rather than several. You can instruct your family office to bring together the experts you need. They might be people already working with you, or they might be brought in to offer their expertise as your portfolio or circumstances change. 

More than a bank

Unlike private banks, which are constrained by their regulatory and industrial practices, a Family Office works directly in service of your needs and preferences. 

A Family Office doesn’t sell products and is completely independent. This means there’s no scope for conflicts of interest. They simply respond to, and anticipate, your needs. It’s an entirely bespoke service to call upon.

Family Governance

In addition to managing your wealth portfolio, a Family Office will help you establish principles of family governance and manage changes that arise. 

Obviously, divorce will be a major change to your family’s legal situation. Your Family Office is there as an emotional firebreak to facilitate constructive discussion to resolve conflict. 

The Family Office will also coordinate governance changes that need to be made as a result of divorce. This will include changes to wills or family constitutions. 

Led by their relationship with you

Just like a divorce coach (who is often part of the family office), a family office works with you on your vision and plan for the future. They prioritise understanding your needs, values, preferences and ambitions. This means they direct your bespoke team to pursue the approach that is in your best interests. 

It means you can focus your attention on your future, and only need one point of contact for all your legal and financial arrangements. The Family Office will act in accordance with your wishes and interests giving you more of your energy for your emotional recovery as you divorce. 

Do you need a Family Office? 

A Family Office is not for you unless you are an Ultra High Net Worth individual, or leaving a UHNW marriage. It’s worth engaging specialist financial advisers if you’re unconfident and finances allow, but you are unlikely to need the comprehensive and bespoke range of services provided by a Family Office. 

If you do have significant wealth to manage, especially if your financial and business dealings span internationally, it is worth considering a Family Office. You can establish your own, or join a multifamily office, such as Cavendish Family Office in Mayfair, founded and run by Mark Estcourt. Mark describes his family office as being ‘the entrepreneur’s entrepreneur’ as he curates specialist teams with a forward-focussed, problem-solving approach. 

Working with a Family Office places you very much at the helm of your wealth. You remain in charge of your wealth and your future. But, just like A CEO, you have a trusted pool of advisors at your disposal. Your partner at the family office will ensure that you have the right pieces of the puzzle in place to fight for and achieve the outcomes you want as your family changes. 

Private support as you divorce

Before you get set your vision for the future you need to spend some time on yourself, in the here and now. If you are in a UHNW situation, life will be complicated. There will be multiple demands on your time, and it’s likely the number of people you trust will have shrunk dramatically.

I have over five years experience of working privately with women leaving high net worth marriages. Believe me, whatever’s going on for you, I won’t be shocked or daunted! I can be the person to steady the ship as you navigate these new waters. To create space for you to work through what you want and need, both now and in the future. Which puts you in the best possible place to work with specialist financial and legal advisors.

If you would like a private, confidential chat to see how we can work together you are welcome to book in a call with me here. 

About Emma

Emma Heptonstall, the Divorce Alchemist is the author of the Amazon best-selling book How to be a Lady Who Leaves, the Ultimate Guide to Getting Divorce Ready. A former lawyer, Emma is a family mediator and founder of Get Divorce Ready the online self-study and group programmes. Emma has been featured on BBC Radio, The Telegraph, the iPaper and in Marie Claire Magazine. Emma is also the host of  The Six Minute Divorce Podcast. To find out more visit www.emmaheptonstall.com

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