It happens pretty often that we find ourselves at a social gathering, and in talking about ourselves, we talk about our professional life. When you’re part of a firm like The Unger Company, you sometimes take for granted that people will understand the terminology that we use in our work life. We realize that this isn’t always the case, so we are doing a series of “what the heck is” topics in our Mini Drilldown to let visitors to our website learn about these terms.
One of these terms is “family office.” People can misunderstand or assume that this is just an office that is part of a family business, like a legal, accounting or insurance department. Actually, that isn’t correct.
A family office in the universe of The Unger Company is a professionally staffed operation that is responsible for managing the financial assets of a wealthy family, and possibly some legal and other dealings of an ultra-high-net-worth (UNHW) family. In this case, an UNHW family is likely to have at the very least $75-to-$100 million or more in investments generating revenue to support a family office.
How big is a family office? That can depend on both the budget of the family that is financing the operation and the responsibilities with which that office is charged. On the small side, it would only be a few people – largely or exclusively investment professionals who are trading stocks, bonds, and managing other assets to meet revenue goals and protect assets from downturns in the market. On the large side, it can number a dozen or more and most likely will include lawyers, accountants, and managers who take care of many aspects of a family’s life – not just financial.
As estate tax strategists, The Unger Company works with the staff of a family office to help in the planning of wealth transfer to the next generation.
That estate tax strategy is critical in order to ensure that the family office, wealth, and ideals are perpetuated through the life of the founder, generally referred to as G1 (Generation 1), and his/her/their offspring, G2, G3 and beyond, and perhaps, numerous charitable organizations. Simply stated, the concept is for the family office to be the quarterback for generations to come – children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on.
As specialists in estate tax planning, The Unger Company’s objective in working with a family office is to assist in the creation of the optimal types of structures to ensure that wealth transfer to those succeeding generations will occur in the best way possible. This is not something we do alone; we work with the team at the family office, plus their legal and accounting professionals, to develop the right kinds of structures to preserve assets. When Generation 1 is gone, the tax man won’t give Generations 2 and 3 much time to settle a tax bill, and our most important goal is to make sure that valuable assets aren’t liquidated at fire sale prices. Neither Uncle Sam nor a state government will be sending thank you notes for taxes paid, no matter how big the tax bill. Nor will any governmental agency assist in perpetuating the ethics and directives of the family office.
The Unger Company, Ltd. is an exclusive firm in the area of estate tax strategy, building elegant and effective estate tax plans for the high-net-worth classes during five decades in business. We have an uncommon level of experience and know-how in this highly specialized business. The firm was founded by Harold Unger in 1974 and he remains an active thought leader in this industry. Contact us through our website or call us at 212-755-4777 to learn more about how we can help you.
Harold Unger LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harold-m-unger-9453aa73/
The Unger Company Ltd. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/93617123/
The Unger Company, Ltd. does not seek to practice law for clients and these published items are intended only to be informational in nature.