Sullivan & Cromwell’s Estates and Personal practice is unmatched in its breadth and depth. Led from New York and London, the practice includes all aspects of U.S. and international private client advice, major U.S. and non-U.S. transactional matters, and U.S. and cross-border trusts and estates litigation. This breadth of practice distinguishes S&C from other U.S. firms.
The Group draws on leaders from each of the Firm’s renowned core practice areas. Together, they provide comprehensive and individualized service to individuals, families, trustees and charitable institutions.
The Group advises clients worldwide on sensitive business and personal affairs, including:
- estate planning and estate and trust administration;
- family business transition;
- tax planning and litigation;
- trusts and estates litigation and dispute resolution;
- creation and administration of family partnerships, joint ventures and property holding vehicles; and
- creation of private foundations.
S&C provides sophisticated estate and personal planning to individuals and families, including the planning and preparation of wills, trust indentures and related estate-planning documents. S&C also assists clients with estate and trust administration matters and sophisticated tax planning involving family limited partnerships, sale and loan techniques, insurance planning and the creation and administration of holding companies. S&C advises on personal planning matters including residential real estate transactions and the purchase and sale of aircrafts and aircraft interests and charitable giving.
One of the first international law firms, S&C has advised individuals, families and trustees worldwide on U.S.-related legal matters for more than 135 years. These representations require effective coordination with counsel, tax and business advisers in the family’s “home” country or countries, and in the relevant trust centers and other jurisdictions in which the family may have interests.
Transactional Matters for Family Businesses
Unlike most private client groups, S&C is regularly involved in major corporate transactions worldwide—together with the Firm’s premier mergers-and-acquisitions and corporate practices—and counts among its clients many U.S. and non-U.S. families that control major industrial, technology and financial concerns.
In many cases, the Firm’s work for these clients involves reorganizing corporate structures and worldwide shareholdings in preparation for a significant corporate transaction, such as an IPO or sale of the business.
Family Business Transition and Governance
The Group helps clients structure and restructure family businesses in the pursuit of long-term family goals. When generational transition poses critical challenges, S&C draws upon the expertise of the Firm’s Estates and Personal, Corporate, Real Estate, Litigation and Tax groups. Together they work to preserve the vitality of a family’s company and address concerns about control and the division of wealth. The Group also advises on governance matters for family businesses, including family governing bodies (family constitutions and family councils), family business planning, family office structures and on a host of related issues of importance for family businesses such as conflict resolution, risk management and ESG investing.
Trusts and Estates Litigation
Trusts and estates litigation often presents complex conflict-of-laws issues and requires coordinated litigation strategies across multiple jurisdictions. The Firm is regularly involved in disputes regarding contested wills, trust administration, challenged gifts and forced inheritance laws. S&C has a reputation for negotiating the resolution of such disputes in creative, tax-efficient ways that minimize family strife, expense and publicity.
S&C provides advice to major charitable and cultural institutions and private foundations worldwide. Clients value the Firm’s detailed knowledge of, and experience with, relevant tax law. S&C advises on executive compensation, structuring of employer-employee policies and procedures, corporate organization and governance matters, real estate, environmental law, banking and investment matters, litigation and private foundation tax rules.