Firms To Watch: Private clients and non-profits

SERNETZ • SCHÄFER advises on corporate succession and asset structuring and represents clients in contentious disputes. The team also advises research institutions and church-related organisations on foundation law.
Friedrich Graf von Westphalen & Partner is particularly well versed in advising private individuals on inheritance law and succession planning as well as assisting church foundations with in-depth expertise in foundation law.

Private clients and non-profits in Germany

Flick Gocke Schaumburg

Flick Gocke Schaumburg comprehensively advises German and international medium-sized families, wealthy private individuals and family offices. Tax law issues are a key strength of practice head Christian Von Oertzen, while corporate succession planning, inheritance law, donations and real estate law are among the key topics of the group, including place of residence matters. Another mainstay is the establishment and representation of foundations. Stephan Schauhoff regularly covers interfacing tax optimisation matters, while Christian Kirchhain is also experienced in tax law, including tax compliance, tax audits and tax litigation, with additional expertise in project design and restructurings.

Practice head(s):

Christian von Oertzen

Other key lawyers:

Stephan Schauhoff; Christian Kirchhain; Andreas Erdbrügger; Frank Hannes; Manfred Reich; Johannes Baßler


‘Very professional, customer-oriented work. High adherence to deadlines. A large number of competent contacts for individual special topics.’

‘Dr. Kirchhain: Very customer-oriented. Contactable at any time. Personally very pleasant cooperation. In-depth knowledge of the special features of our facility. Knows how to produce an easy-to-understand presentation, even in the case of very complicated issues.’

‘FGS has a wealth of partners and professionals with broad and deep specialist knowledge, who are characterized by their very special practical relevance and implementation strength. The unflinching eye on what is feasible and on designs that will also bear fruit in the medium to long term seem more important than aggressive designs with chances of profit but significant reputational risks.’

‘Dr. Johannes Baßler is a technically outstanding, extremely solution-oriented legal and tax advisor with outstanding mediation skills in disputes.’

‘Dr. Christian von Oertzen appears as a doyen in the German foundation world.’

‘The FGS partners have excellent knowledge of both non-profit law and industry-specific problems. This allows them to find excellent solutions to issues that have not yet been clarified by the highest court.’

‘The two partners Prof. Dr. Schauhoff and Dr. Kirchhain have extensive knowledge of the specific problems of the non-profit sector and have contacts to many important decision-makers. They solve the problems in a very practical way and present solutions that can be implemented easily.’

‘Hardly any UNHWI customer who is not looked after in one way or another by FGS.’


POELLATH advises on all matters in the private clients and non-profits sphere, including succession and inheritance planning as well as the establishment of foundations and family offices. The team supports wealthy private individuals and entrepreneurial families in tax optimisations of companies, foundations and trusts in Germany and abroad as well as in contentious succession matters; the latter in particular was a recent prominent topic. The practice is headed by a trio: Andreas Richter specialises in advising corporate families and foundations while Stephan Viskorf is well versed in tax and succession issues, and Katharina Gollan is an expert in charitable foundations. Maximilian Haag is a key contact for international tax and succession matters.

Practice head(s):

Stephan Viskorf; Andreas Richter; Katharina Gollan

Other key lawyers:

Maximilian Haag; Martin Liebernickel; Katharina Hemmen; Sebastian Löcherbach; Marco Ottenwälder


‘The team combines everything you need as a private client, from family law to taxes, from a single source.’

‘Miss Dr. Gollan: Pragmatic, client-oriented, professionally qualified.’

‘I have always found Pöllath (Munich and Berlin) to be very practice-oriented and pragmatic. They are also very personable! It’s a pleasure to work with them.’

Work highlights

  • Comprehensive advice on the succession planning of a UHNWI, in particular on bundling the operational group of companies and the real estate group under one holding company while avoiding real estate transfer tax and income tax while optimizing gift tax at the same time.
  • Advising a family foundation on amendments to the statutes in the areas of assets/income, directors’ liability and governance before the foundation law reform came into effect.
  • Advice to an entrepreneurial family, in particular the preparation of marriage contracts, wills and donation contracts, including all gift tax and income tax aspects.


CMS recently added numerous new clients to its roster, which benefit from the firm's close cross-locational cooperation. Practice heads Dirk Schauer and Christian Blum advise family businesses and wealthy individuals at the interface between succession and non-profit law, where clients are supported in structuring their companies and succession planning. In addition to entrepreneurs and wealthy private individuals, the client base also includes crypto investors, which are supported in the establishment and restructuring of tax-efficient foundations and family offices in Germany and internationally. Björn Demuth is another key contact and specialises in corporate, compliance, succession and tax issues. Inheritance expert Thomas Meyer semi retired and continues to advise as of counsel.

Practice head(s):

Dirk Schauer; Christian Blum

Other key lawyers:

Björn Demuth; Martin Erker


‘The entire Private Clients team acts in close internal coordination, almost informally, attentively and quickly. The design is not too aggressive, all steps and suggestions are processed in a highly transparent manner.’

‘The Privat Clients team is characterized by a team of experts with the necessary expertise to put this into practice. Communication takes place at eye level.’

‘The team responds very quickly and comprehensively to client questions. It keeps an eye on all aspects of the mandate and provides very forward-looking advice.’


Noerr advises well-known German family buisnesses and wealthy private individuals in succession, foundation and wealth matters. The key areas include advising national and international family businesses and foundations on tax in connection with alternative investments as well as fund and asset structuring and traditional transactional support; the latter is the focus of practice head and transaction specialist Tobias Bürgers, who also assists clients with corporate law issues. Co-head Wolfram Theiss is experienced in succession planning, the establishment of foundations and contentious inheritance matters.

Practice head(s):

Tobias Bürgers; Wolfram Theis

Other key lawyers:

Gerald Reger; Frank Schuck


Oppenhoff offers a full-service approach and comprehensively advises on complex issues in the areas of asset and corporate succession and inheritance. The foundation segment constitutes a recent growth area, where the team advised on the establishment of new foundations and acted on behalf of numerous large German foundations, among others. Practice head Axel Wenzel supports wealthy private individuals, family entrepreneurs and foundations in national corporate law matters and regularly joins forces with Gregor Seikel in succession issues and family conflicts. Sebastian Zeeck covers matters pertaining to restructuring and corporate litigation. At the end of 2021, the team welcomed Hans-Joachim Otto (inheritance law, succession planning, real estate and brokerage law) from GSK Stockmann; in April 2022,  inheritance tax law expert Jan Mohrmann joined from ADVANT Beiten.

Practice head(s):

Axel Wenzel

Other key lawyers:

Gregor Seikel; Sebastian Zeeck; David Falkowski; Philipp Heinrichs; Raphael Greimert; Hans-Joachim Otto; Jan Mohrmann


‘The internal flow of information and the internal cooperation across different subject areas works very well.’

‘Appointments and organization are always well prepared.’

‘Dr. Gregor Seikel: Goal-oriented way of thinking, very good accessibility.’

‘The partners and their associates are outstanding specialists in the all-round support of wealthy private clients and wealthy families, even with highly complex international and tax law relationships.’

‘The practice has grown over the years and has expertise that I have not seen anywhere else at this level.’

‘Excellent expertise, even in more complex foundation law cases, very good accessibility across all hierarchical levels, quick comprehension.’

‘Dr. Wenzel is an outstanding expert in foundation law when it comes to reputational risks. Excellent manners, ie even with different members of our team, he knows how to present complex issues at any time and to get to grips with the world of a foundation.’

Key clients

Alfred Landecker Foundation

JAB Family Office

Familie Reimann

Sebastian Vettel

Adventana Foundation

UBS Switzerland AG

Work highlights

  • Advice to the Alfred Landecker Foundation as exclusive founding sponsor of the think tank CeMAS.
  • Advised a UHNWI family (three generations) on succession planning and structuring, anticipated succession in real estate and securities assets, assignment agreements, testamentary dispositions, marriage contracts and the structuring of the family company.
  • Advising the shareholder and managing director of a large media group for trade journals on the implementation of pension schemes in the event of death or incapacity.

SZA Schilling, Zutt & Anschütz Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH

SZA Schilling, Zutt & Anschütz Rechtsanwalts AG acts for entrepreneurs, family businesses and wealthy private individuals and advises them in Germany and internationally on succession, tax issues and asset structuring as well as foundation and non-profit law. Supporting shareholders in family businesses is another focus of the practice group, particularly in the context of drafting articles of association. Inheritance lawyer Stephan Scherer jointly heads the group with succession and wealth expert Martin Feick.

Practice head(s):

Stephan Scherer; Martin Feick

Other key lawyers:

Robert Opris; Tobias Krause


‘We have worked well together with SZA Schilling, Zutt & Anschütz for many years, the work is characterized by a high level of technical expertise.’

‘The office is technically up to date and convinces with adherence to deadlines and the best communication.’

‘Dr. Martin Feick, Dr. Stephan Scherer, Dr. Robert Opris convince with their outstanding professional competence and high level of commitment.’

‘Professional excellence, personable.’

Work highlights

  • Ongoing succession advice to the shareholders of Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA with a total volume of over €1 billion.
  • Ongoing advice in connection with succession planning for Freudenberg & Co shareholders living in Germany and abroad, including the conclusion of marriage contracts, in particular advice on complex international issues.


ADVANT Beiten's team is particularly well versed in all matters pertaining to foundations and recently advised clients on the establishment of foundations. Other growth areas include succession planning, family businesses and tax law matters. Practice head Gerrit Ponath specialises in advising wealthy private individuals and family businesses on succession, foundation and tax optimisation issues. He jointly heads the team with Lucas Van Randenborgh, who focuses on tax, restructuring, M&A and succession matters. Key contact Katharina Fink advises on the interface between foundation and inheritance law; she regularly supports foundations in court proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Gerrit Ponath; Lucas van Randenborgh

Other key lawyers:

Guido Krüger; Klaus Zimmermann; Katharina Fink


‘ADVANT Beiten has an excellent Private Clients area, which is extremely service-oriented and competent.’

‘Even challenging clients were always “picked up” with empathy and with the right type of communication and addressing.’

‘Dr. Gerrit Ponath is a personality who is both highly competent and personally convincing. Both as a speaker and in a personal mandate, Dr. Ponath always uses the right language and gets to the point.’

‘Dr. Gerrit Ponath has very deep and broad knowledge and an enormous wealth of experience. He is always available at short notice and approachable. I really appreciate working with him, as the very professional business relationship with him is underlined by a pleasant working atmosphere.’

‘The law firm is uniquely able to provide comprehensive support to its clients. Since all important areas are covered in-house.’

‘Dr. Ponath has an extremely deep knowledge of foundations and generation management. Extremely valuable as a partner in the exchange for us and our customers!’

Key clients


Deutsche Bank Stiftungsverwaltung

Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung

Familie Schambach-Stiftung

Glasmeister Heinz Familienstiftung/Gemeinnützige Carl August Heinz Stiftung

Helga Ravenstein-Stiftung

World Vision Stiftung/World Vision e.V.

Work highlights

  • Advising the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University on tax-privileged corporations.
  • Ongoing advice to several large and medium-sized foundations, including the Else Kröner Fresenius Foundation, Brost, German Center for Mobility of the Future, the Schambach Family Foundation and the Helga Ravenstein Foundation, on various topics.

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek

Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek advises nationally and internationally on all topics pertaining to private clients with a focus on tax and succession law. Practice head Gunter Mühlhaus advises wealthy clients on complex issues of succession and inheritance law, while Hans Gummert is experienced in the establishment and restructuring of foundations and also covers corporate law issues. Jörn Matuszewski and Anne Erning have expertise in tax law, which leads to frequent instructions by entrepreneurial families on tax optimisation of asset structures, as well as on foundations and estate administration. Sandra Kalthoff supports clients in family law issues, including divorce, and is experienced in dispute resolution.

Practice head(s):

Gunter Mühlhaus

Other key lawyers:

Jörn Matuszewski; Hans Gummert; Anne Erning; Sandra Kalthoff


‘Very established.’

‘Dr. Gunter Mühlhaus and Anne Erning know each other very well.’


Rittershaus' entrepreneurial families and private clients team offers upper medium-sized clients advice on corporate and asset succession as well as expertise in the establishment of foundations. The group is well versed in sector-specific cross-border matters as well as dispute resolution, where entrepreneurs are supported in court proceedings pertaining to corporate and family law or the resolution of disputes by way of mediation. The practice is jointly led by family business expert Werner Born and succession and asset protection specialist Michael Kühn.

Practice head(s):

Werner Born; Michael Kühn

Other key lawyers:

Marco Wicklein; Bernhard Naujack; Pawel Blusz; Eva Schwittek; Corinna Stiehl


‘The tireless work commitment was particularly worth mentioning. Even in situations that would actually have led to the negotiations being broken off, I was motivated to persevere, which ultimately paid off and was worth it.’

‘In particular, the mediation skills of Dr. Kühn and his outstanding rhetoric were convincing. The ability to work in a team with the other law firms involved was also outstanding.’

‘Absolute expertise and 24-hour availability rounded off the package.’

Taylor Wessing

Taylor Wessing comprehensively advises on all private client matters, with a focus on inheritance, family, foundation and tax law, including relevant cross-border matters. Family businesses and wealthy private individuals regularly instruct the team regarding the establishment and restructuring of cross-border, tax-efficient holding structures and foundations, where the group regularly cooperates with the coporate team. The team is jointly led by wealth and corporate succession specialist Axel Godron and transaction expert Martin Kraus.

Practice head(s):

Axel Godron; Martin Kraus

Other key lawyers:

Jens Escher; Cornelia Maetsche-Biersack; Pia Thress


‘Deep knowledge of private clients issues (including family law).’

‘Strongly developed professional competence across many specialist areas in one person. Low level of delegation.’

Work highlights

  • Advising Renate Schubries on the sale of the stake in the Funke media group.

Winheller Rechtsanwälte

Winheller Rechtsanwälte welcomed tax advisor Sascha Matussek in January 2022 and thus expanded its tax capacities and the support for crypto and NFT investors; the latter also regularly instruct Stefan Winheller. The team advises associations, foundations and gGmbHs as well as private individuals on matters pertaining to asset structuring and non-profit organisations; these capacities were strengthened with the partner appointment of Johannes Fein in January 2022. Fein jointly heads the practice with tax and property law expert Boris Piekarek, who also handles corporate and real estate law matters, thus supporting clients in the design of complex asset structures, family businesses and real estate investments. Thomas Dehesselles is experienced in tax and sports law. In March 2022, tax and succession specialist Lars-Olaf Leskovar joined DREYENBERG RECHTSANWÄLTE UND STEUERBERATER.

Practice head(s):

Johannes Fein; Boris Piekarek

Other key lawyers:

Stefan Winheller; Thomas Dehesselles; Alexander Vielwerth


‘The law firm assumes long-term and constant social responsibility through comprehensive voluntary commitment in the non-profit sector. The cooperation is very satisfactory, reliable, competent and result-oriented.’

‘All lawyers are technically extremely competent, always up to date in terms of content and can impart knowledge in a way that is appropriate for the target group.’

‘In general, all employees are committed, the cooperation is excellent and very constructive. Very high level of service.’

Key clients

1. FSV Mainz 05 e.V.

ASB Landesverband Sachsen-Anhalt e.V.

Verband der Feuerwehren in NRW e.V.

Stiftung Westfalen-Initiative für Eigenverantwortung und Gemeinwohl

KAB Deutschlands e.V.

ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg e.V.

VRFF Die Mediengewerkschaft e.V.

BRH Bundesverband Rettungshunde e.V.

Hubert Burda Stiftung


BRL BOEGE ROHDE LUEBBEHUESEN offers a full-service approach and is frequently instructed by wealthy private individuals and entrepreneurial families in the context of tax and corporate law issues pertaining to succession planning. In this regard, foundations are considered to be a variant of asset protection, where the team regularly advises on relevant non-profit issues as well as family conflicts. Practice head Oliver Tomat assists medium-sized companies with commercial law, M&A and corporate law. His team includes Nils Meyer-Sandberg and Andreas Grandt (corporate succession, transactions and tax law), mediator Daniel Mundhenke (also corporate succession and corporate law) and Nadine Wunderlich (foundation law).

Practice head(s):

Oliver Tomat

Other key lawyers:

Nils Meyer-Sandberg; Daniel Mundhenke; Andreas Grandt; Nadine Wunderlich


‘The extremely high degree of integration of the different areas and specialists is remarkable.’

‘There is a coordinated result involving complex designs from a single source. One has the good feeling of having, in addition to comprehensive resources and, if necessary, various specialists, a partner who is responsible for the mandate and who “takes care of” and arranges everything necessary with a high level of expertise.’

‘In addition to the project advice, we also appreciate the possibility of ongoing tax advice at BRL.’

Key clients

Nader Etmenan Stiftung

Berenberg Kids Stiftung

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.

Work highlights

  • Advice on foundation and non-profit law to the Berenberg Kids Foundation, including an amendment to the statutes.
  • Comprehensive tax and non-profit law advice to the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. regarding the activities of a non-profit research institution in Germany and abroad.
  • Ongoing tax advice to the Nader Etmenan Foundation; also advice on non-profit law in connection with projects of the foundation.

Dissmann Orth

Dissmann Orth frequently advises clients at the tax law interface, with regular instructions from medium-sized and high-net-worth individuals on asset and corporate succession as well as the establishment of tax-efficient and charitable foundations. As part of the tax law advice, Jochen Ettinger and Chiara Balbinot support German and foreign clients in the establishment and restructuring of foundations, among others. Armin Hergeth and Tobias Eberl are among the key contacts for international tax law and asset structuring as well as general corporate law issues.

Other key lawyers:

Jochen Ettinger; Armin Hergeth; Tobias Eberl; Chiara Balbinot


‘Excellent corporate and tax law support for medium-sized companies and entrepreneurial families in, among other things, M&A, succession, foundation issues, international tax law.’

‘Comprehensive advice on business and private assets, wealth structuring and planning.’

‘Dr. Jochen Ettinger: Excellent technical expertise, strong personality in communication and interaction, empathetic demeanor.’

Work highlights

  • Advising an entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial family on succession planning, donation and the transfer of a majority stake in a parent company.

dtb rechtsanwälte

dtb Rechtsanwälte comprehensively covers matters in the private clients arena and focuses on foundation, non-profit and inheritance law as well as art-related issues. Clients include artists, art collectors and museums, which are advised on setting up and maintaining their collections as well as on tax, copyright, contract and general corporate law issues. Bertold Schmidt-Thomé is a key contact for entrepreneurs and their heirs and is experienced in foundation matters. He jointly heads the practice with Pascal Decker, who advises artists on issues related to the establishment of foundations and corporate succession; he also focuses on press and trademark law.

Practice head(s):

Bertold Schmidt-Thomé; Pascal Decker


‘Close contact with the art scene, years of experience in advising foundations, high professional qualifications.’

‘Bertold Schmidt-Thomé is an absolute expert in the field of art due to his training as an art historian. He has extensive experience in foundation administration.’

‘The entire team is extremely artistic and enthusiastic.’

Key clients

Stiftung KUNSTFORUM der Berliner Volksbank

FPI Fair Pay Innovation Lab gGmbH

Universität der Künste Berlin

Work highlights

  • Advising the KUNSTFORUM foundation of the Berliner Volksbank on the reorganization of the bank-foundation relationship.
  • Advising the heiress of a well-known German artist, among other things, on the valuation of art in the estate and on international tax law issues.

Heussen Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH

Led by Frank-Grischa Feitsch, Heussen Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH offers companies and individuals comprehensive advice on inheritance and foundation law, with a particular focus on tax law. The team is routinely instructed on asset structuring, including the establishment of foundations in Germany and abroad. Due to the close cooperation with a tax consultant in Palma de Mallorca, relevant cross-border issues such as place of residency are also covered. Christoph Hamm is experienced in real estate law and related transactions, while Clemens Richter advises family offices on corporate law and transactions.

Practice head(s):

Frank-Grischa Feitsch

Other key lawyers:

Christoph Hamm; Clemens Richter; Kerstin Linder; Alexander Tauber

Kantenwein Zimmermann Spatscheck & Partner

Kantenwein Zimmermann Spatscheck & Partner focuses on the interface between succession planning, tax and corporate law. The team advises wealthy private individuals on succession and inheritance issues, the establishment and structuring of tax-efficient foundations and family offices as well as charitable structures. These competencies reflect the expertise of practice head Annett Kuhli-Spatscheck, who is supported by Thomas Kantenwein (specialising in advising foundations and non-profit organisations) and Stefan Hackel (inheritance and tax law as well as commercial and corporate law).

Practice head(s):

Annett Kuhli-Spatscheck

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Kantenwein; Stefan Hackel

Work highlights

  • Advising an entrepreneur and shareholder on succession; Legal and tax advice for a specially founded family office.
  • Advice to a family business on restructuring, in particular due to the initiation of corporate succession, as well as tax law and civil law advice on a change of shareholder.

KPMG Law in Germany

Due to an increased workload, KPMG Law in Germany opened a new location in Münster in August 2022 and comprehensively advises clients on succession matters and asset protection as well as the establishment and restructuring of foundations. Practice head Mark Uwe Pawlytta is a key contact for tax law and also assists with wills, donations and martrimonial contracts as well as the establishment of foundations. Jochen Maier is experienced in contentious tax law proceedings and also assists clients with individual and entrepreneurial succession planning.

Practice head(s):

Mark Uwe Pawlytta

Other key lawyers:

Stefan Wilhelm Suchan; Jochen Maier