Guernsey: Family Office Structuring Masters

Last Updated: 23 April 2015
Article by Joe Truelove

Most Read Contributor in Guernsey, November 2018

Joe Truelove, Director of Carey Group, and Kerrie Le Tissier, Senior Associate at Bedell Cristin Guernsey Partnership, play out a conversation between a fictional client and his lawyer as the client seeks to understand the various options typically available to ultra-high net-worth individuals for managing their wealth.

The scenario

It is the day of his daughter's wedding and Joe has arranged a quick meeting with his lawyer Kerrie to discuss his family's affairs – the wedding has brought to Joe's mind a number of issues which he wants resolved.

Joe: Kerrie, I need some advice. I've worked hard all my life, I've created a world-leading business, I'm getting old, my third wife is very young, I have many children in a variety of jurisdictions living aroundthe world, I may even be a grandfather soon. I'mworried about the future – how can I provide foreveryone? What will happen to it all when I die?It's all getting too much, I can't sleep at night!What do I do?

Kerrie: You really need to think about preserving yourwealth and succession planning. It sounds asthough what you may need is a trust.You hand over your money to a trustee and theylook after it for you, both during your lifetime andafter your death. In fact, you could put any of yourassets into trust – shares in your companies, yourreal estate, artwork, wine collection...

Joe: What? Are you crazy? I want to keep my assets, notgive them to someone else. Who can I trust?

Kerrie: Find yourself a reputable and experienced trustcompany, in a stable and well-regulated jurisdiction.Trustees in Guernsey are regulated and they'vebeen doing this for more than 50 years.

Joe: But what if I don't like what they do with my money?

Kerrie: They usually have at least some discretion but theycan't just do what they like with the trust assets.They are fiduciaries, which means that they don'tact in their own interests but instead they must actin the interests of the beneficiaries, who would beyour family. There are serious consequences if theyfail to do this – they could face claims for breachof trust and there could be regulatory implications, which they would obviously want to avoid. That said, there are some things, such as providing letters of guidance, appointing a protector and reserving powers, you could do to get even more comfort.

Joe: Okay, a trust could work, I'm still concerned abouthanding over control but I'll think about it. Are thereany alternatives?

Kerrie: To retain even more control, you could form aprivate trust company. This is where you form acompany solely to act as trustee of your trust. Youcould be on the board of the trustee, or own thetrust company and influence its direction.

Joe: But I don't know much about trust law so why would I set one up?

Kerrie: You would appoint people with experience oftrust management as co-directors. It's a popularand tried and tested structure for people in yourposition.However, as another alternative, we havefoundations in Guernsey which tend to appealto people from civil jurisdictions who are notcomfortable with handing over control.

Joe: So I control the foundation?

Kerrie: To an extent. Think of a foundation as a bit like across between a trust and a company: like a trustit is usually used for holding assets for someone'sbenefit (here, your family) and like a company it'sa separate legal entity. There is a council whichmanages the foundation, which is like the board ofdirectors of a company or the Trustee of the trust.You could be a member of the foundation's councilif you wanted to retain some influence over it.

Joe: Okay, so there's a bit less trust involved – I havetrust issues.

Kerrie: I understand that but with either a trust or afoundation, properly set up with your needs andrequirements taken into account, you would havea structure which would assist you with protectingyour assets and planning the succession in thebusiness. Neither would attract additional tax andboth could give you some level of control, whilealso involving experienced professionals in themanagement and administration of your wealth.

Joe: Okay that sounds good, but am I missingsomething? I've been hearing a lot about PCCs –what are they? Why can't I have one of them?

Kerrie: PCC is an abbreviation for a Protected CellCompany. It is a concept which was first createdin Guernsey but has now been adopted by manyjurisdictions where it is sometimes referred to as asegregated portfolio company. Basically a PCC isa single legal entity which incorporates multiplecells each of which is a separate pool of assetsand liabilities.

Joe: So I could put my different businesses in differentcells, give one cell to each of my family membersand limit the liabilities of each cell so that if one ofthem loses money it is ring-fenced from the rest ofthe family wealth?

Kerrie: Yes that's right. You could also put different assetsor asset classes into different cells and/or usedifferent cells to hold assets for different branchesof your family, in each case segregated

Joe: Where can I access all of these different options?What happens if I need a combination of differentstructures?

Kerrie: All of these structures are available in Guernsey.Guernsey's trust, foundation and corporate lawsare robust yet flexible, so I am sure we can find asolution to all your concerns about preserving yourwealth and providing for your family. We have aninfrastructure which is second to none with respectto the provision of trustee, fiduciary, corporateand fund administration services in addition to ourbanking, legal, taxation and accounting expertisewithin the island. You would just need to run anyproposals past your tax advisers first to make surethere are not any adverse tax consequences.

Joe: Thanks Kerrie, this all sounds great. My onlyconcern now is how I manage and administermy various structures – it sounds like it could getcomplicated. I'd really like someone to do all that forme so I can focus on my businesses and spendingtime with my family.

Kerrie: Given the complexity of your requirements and thesize of your wealth, you should consider settingup a family office to manage your assets andcoordinate the administration of your structures.Again, you would want to set this up in a jurisdictionwhere there is expertise in wealth management andreadily available professional support. Guernseywould be a suitable place and having both yourfamily office and structures set up there would makesense. It is able to offer the expertise and supportyou need, you can fly there directly from Londonor Geneva so you can visit your family office asnecessary; it is politically stable and is a tax neutral jurisdiction for non-residents.

An original version of this article was published in Familia, Issue 3, February 2015.

For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions