Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has the global connections and Singapore credibility to target the demand for family office establishments in the jurisdiction. It advises a range of ultra-high-net-worth and high-net-worth individuals and families on business, estate and succession planning issues, family office establishments and reorganisations. The core team has impressive tax and trusts expertise under the leadership of prominent figure Dawn Quek, who heads up the wealth management practice in Singapore; she has represented a number of wealthy clients on seeking permanent residency and citizenship in Singapore and in launching family offices in the jurisdiction.
Private wealth and family law – local firms in Singapore
Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow
Drew & Napier LLC has continued to develop its presence in advising foreign clients on family trust and family office structures in Singapore. The firm has a number of experienced tax specialists and makes use of its strong connections to China and Indonesia. The team has advised on a series of new trust products and the migration of trusts to Singapore. Ong Sim Ho is an experienced tax specialist with a major emphasis on private wealth planning and private client work, while Seah Ching Ling is an emerging talent in this field. Randolph Khoo is a leading name in private client disputes and family wealth cases.
‘The team was always on the same page, and worked like a well oiled machine. They really seem like they get along not only in their professional lives but also their personal ones. Bottom line is they are good people.’
‘The individuals were very personable and communicate very clearly and succinctly. They always were quick to listen and provide feedback when necessary.’
‘The legal team that worked with me is led by Randolph Khoo and comprised of Hoon Shu Mei and Sharon Ki. They are, in my opinion, the best family lawyers in Singapore. They are highly competent and professional. I trust them.’
‘Randolph Khoo, Hoon Shu Mei and Sharon Ki are smart, knowledgeable and very good at what they do.’
‘Well structured around key competencies both in legal and negotiations; given their depth of experience they were able to guide and support me on anticipated options in my once-in-a-lifetime experience.’
‘Hoon Shu Mei & Randolph Khoo are outstanding individuals both as legal professionals and deep empathy for their clients. Walking me through my options and risks in each. They took care of my matters relating to my divorce and life matters subsequent.’
‘Ong Sim Ho and Seah Ching Ling are technically strong and have good commercial sense. Easy to communicate and work with.’
‘Randolph Khoo is a leading figure in the family law market. Hoon Shu Mei is an up and coming rising star who is making a name for herself in the industry. Shu Mei’s ability to be a tenacious litigator yet explore all means of resolving matters amicably via mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options sets her apart from her peers in her field. Her flexibility and integrity are key strengths.’
- Advised a billionaire’s family office based in Asia on the acquisition of assets in Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Hong Kong and London. Subsequently advised the family office on the trust/fund structures and the accompanying cross-jurisdictional tax implications through which new acquisitions and existing assets should be held for asset protection and succession planning purposes.
- Represented a client in a negotiation with her fiancé on a pre-nuptial agreement, dealing with complex issues of jurisdiction and coordination of legal advice and negotiation between multiple jurisdictions.
- Represented a former prime minister of Georgia and his family in the Court of Appeal in respect of a claim they brought against the trustee of a $1.1bn trust.
Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP handles a growing volume of family office applications, continuing to represent a large number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals in Asia and leveraging strong connections to private banks. The team has an extensive track record in succession planning and has deep tax expertise thanks to the presence of key partner Vikna Rajah. Chandra Mohan Rethnam co-heads the private client team and is noted for handling high-net-worth divorce proceedings and probate and trusts disputes. Kee Lay Lian leads the family law practice.
Vikna Rajah; Chandra Mohan Rethnam
Other key lawyers:
Kee Lay Lian
‘The responses from R&T are quick, concise and practical.’
‘Vikna Rajah is excellent in client management and he can make it simple and understandable for the client.’
‘Kee Lay Lian is a pragmatic problem-solver.’
‘Vikna Rajah and his team work with solution-oriented approach.’
‘Vikna Rajah. His knowledge on tax and legal matters is absolutely great. He doesn’t focus just on one aspect or element of the case or matter that goes to him. He looks at the overall case, advises the client and provides the right solutions in a short time.’
‘Their understanding of the Asian market and families is unique compared to other firms which gives them an edge in advising. They are very patient and invest deeply in relationships.’
‘We would like to give a big shout out to Mr Vikna Rajah whom we have worked very closely with at all times. His responsiveness and relentless support to our requests is always outstanding and exceptional. In one particular situation, Vikna poured his best view to us and this has better helped us in the compliance reporting for our clients. Vikna is great to work with and he also performed with a high level of professionalism. He explains everything in detail and made the process a better learning experience. Kudos to Vikna!’
Withers KhattarWong LLP is part of a regional and international powerhouse in private wealth and tax planning matters. The Singapore team has experienced considerable growth in recent years and represents a high proportion of ultra-high-net-worth individuals that hold their wealth in Singapore. With its international tax expertise, the Singapore office is also able to assist clients with structuring matters involving both their business and family investments. The firm is especially active in establishing family offices in Singapore, along with other fund structures and vehicles. In this regard, Stacy Choong has made a big impression on the market, while Fernando Gandioli provides US and international expertise in tax and estate planning for high net-worth individuals, trusts and estates. Deborah Barker SC is a key name for disputes in this sector, Ivan Cheong is recommended for family law matters and Yong Sheng Hon is a key name at senior associate level.
Other key lawyers:
Stacy Choong; Ivan Cheong; Lian Chuan Yeoh; Yong Sheng Hon
‘Very strong technical knowledge and strategic in resolutions. Direct, forthcoming, prompt and highly competent. Meticulous strong advisory.’
‘The team has people with superlative knowledge in their field. They know the subject matter thoroughly and are able to practically and successfully guide their clients through the various approval stages. Also, Withers KhattarWong is well connected in the industry and is able to connect with various service providers, which makes the process and their service offerings comprehensive.’
‘We worked closely with Stacy Choong and Yong Sheng Hon. With both of them, we have been impressed with their knowledge, their experience, their guidance and their manner of execution. We always felt we were in safe hands with their counsel.’
‘Ivan Cheong is easy to work with and pragmatic.’
‘Ivan Cheong is an experienced, personable family lawyer who gives sensible and practical advice. Would recommend him.’
‘Withers KhattarWong’s team possess very strong expertise in wealth, estate planning, family office establishment and management, tax areas. Whatever questions I have, the team will deliver satisfactory answers. One of the best law firms I’ve worked with.’
‘Care for clients’ wellbeing, attention to details and prompt response to my inquiries. Yong Sheng Hon is just fantastic!’
‘Stacy Choong, Fernando Gandioli and Lian Chuan Yeoh are particularly impressive as their understanding of UHNW families includes a strong grasps of the asset classes and types that such families may be invested.’
WongPartnership LLP has a large team dedicated to private wealth and family law matters. It advises a range of private banks, trustee companies and wealthy individuals and is active in succession planning and wealth management issues, including launching and reorganising family offices. Sim Bock Eng has extensive experience in family, matrimonial, succession trusts and probate disputes, and is an expert in succession planning. David Chee is noted for wealth and succession planning engagements, and his knowledge of trust and trustee arrangements. Khoo Yuh Huey has left the firm.
Other key lawyers:
‘WongPartnership is the place to go to for advice on Wills, LPA and Trust. We have been referring many clients to WongPartnership and had good feedback.’
‘Sim Bock Eng and her team of lawyers are experienced and attentive to clients’ needs. The turn around time is fast regardless of it being email or face-to-face meetings.’
‘There is depth in the teams that advise the UHNW and HNW families whether this is for single family office establishment or larger family governance planning.’
‘Sim Bock Eng’s style of communication is particularly helpful as she is able to give user-friendly answers to practical questions which is a testament to the depth and breadth of her experience in dealing with UHNW families and their issues.’
‘The team is well diversified in terms of experience and expertise.’
‘Sim Bock Eng: Possesses intimate knowledge of the Private Wealth industry, including market practice and risks. Well balanced in managing clients’ and trustees’ expectations.’
‘David Chee: Has personal experience working as a trustee and therefore understands the mindset of trustees.’
HSBC Trustee (Singapore) Limited
DBS Trustee Limited
Trident Trust Company (Singapore) Pte. Limited
UBS Trustees (Singapore) Ltd.
Singapore Trust Company Pte. Ltd.
LGT Bank (Singapore) Ltd.
Asiaciti Trust Singapore Pte. Ltd.
Zedra Trust Company (Singapore Limited)
Vistra Trust (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
SG Trust (Asia) Ltd.
Allen & Gledhill LLP has an extensive track record in disputes, pre-dispute advisory issues and structuring matters. The practice centres on UHNW and HNW individuals, and family offices. It also benefits from its close links to banks and trust companies, and has a broad geographic outlook, from Southeast Asia to China, Europe and the US. Goh Eng Cher joined the firm in November 2021 from JPMorgan as co-head of the private wealth practice; a fluent Mandarin speaker, her arrival comes at a time when the team is increasingly focused on the Chinese market. Pek Bur Lim is the other co-head of the group, with a strong background in tax and wealth planning work for UHNW individuals.
Dentons Rodyk works intensively in family office establishments in Singapore, drawing on its regional connections and that of its international offices. The Singapore team also has a strong emphasis on dispute resolution involving private wealth and family office cases. The global firm has a major focus on private wealth issues and the Singapore office now represents a multitude of wealthy families, along with private banks, trustees and asset managers. The hugely experienced Edmund Leow SC is a leader in private wealth matters, including personal tax, trusts and estate planning work, while Kia Meng Loh has a disputes background and has extensive experience in trusts, estates and wealth planning. In July 2022, the team added Emily Low, a lateral hire from Atlas Asia Law Corporation; Low specialises in family office and investment fund structures.
Edmund Leow SC; Kia Meng Loh
Other key lawyers:
‘Key capabilities are in areas of tax and blockchain technology related legal matters. Blockchain technology being easily accessible around the world poses unique cross border challenges. Dentons has offices around the globe thereby making addressing cross border legal matters convenient. Communications and knowledge transfer pertaining to the concerned legal matters between different offices was accurate and reliable. Everyone working at Dentons are professional and they communicate keeping the client first.’
‘Edmund Leow is immensely reliable when it comes to tax matters. He has extensive knowledge and experience in the field. He is able to understand the unique challenges blockchain technology creates and he is able to address them and provide invaluable advice and strategy in this area.’
‘Dentons assisted us for a matter – they were responsive, well resourced and provided succinct advice.’
‘Kia Meng Loh deserves special mention for his responsiveness and very practical advice premised on his strong knowledge of trusts law as well as vast experience dealing with similar disputes, as well as wide legal industry contacts. I appreciated his counsel and guidance in coming up with amicable solutions for all.’
Prime Asia Asset Management
- Advised Prime Asia Asset Management on various legal issues regarding its business, such as regulatory licences, compliance, fund structures and its regional expansion.
- Advised a client on a case regarding trust administration, specifically, on the issue of discharge of trustees.
- Advised an individual on the pending criminal proceedings in Italy where the Italian prosecutors sought mutual assistance from Singapore’s police to freeze all assets in the client’s bank accounts.
RHTLaw Asia LLP
RHTLaw Asia LLP advises a burgeoning number of HNW individuals and families, and has leveraged the broader expertise of the firm to help clients with alternative investments in cryptocurrency and other digital assets. It also specialises in handling art and philanthropy matters for HNW clients. The firm has extensive tax expertise to support the private wealth practice and is also active in family and trusts disputes. Kaylee Kwok is a recognised private wealth specialist who is supported by senior figure Tan Chong Huat.
Kaylee Kwok; Tan Chong Huat
RHT Rajan Menon Foundation Ltd
Lee Kuan Yew Scholarship Fund
Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellowship
Dr Goh Keng Swee Scholarship Fund
The Association of Banks in Singapore
Singapore Press Club Ltd
Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation (Singapore) Limited
KidSTART Singapore Ltd
Conservation International Asia-Pacific, Ltd
Movement For the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore
- Advised RHT Rajan Menon Foundation on all legal matters such as corporate, commercial, intellectual property and technology, fundraising as well as governance and compliance matters.
- Advised Chow Tai Fook Charity Foundation on its initiatives for partnering and grants.
- Acted in a trust dispute regarding the nature and extent of fiduciary duties of investment in a property development project in Cambodia.
Shook Lin & Bok LLP has an extensive background in representing UHNW individuals and family offices in the establishment of funds, private trusts and single family offices in Singapore. The firm has demonstrated expertise in single investor funds structured as a Singapore umbrella variable capital company (VCC). It also frequently advises UHNW individuals from around the Asia Pacific region on the establishment of private trusts. Department head Tan Woon Hum specialises in investment funds, REITS and trusts.
Tan Woon Hum
- Advised a Singapore fund manager and an ultra-high-net-worth Singapore individual on the structuring and formation of a single investor fund structured as a Singapore umbrella variable capital company.
- Advised an ultra-high-net-worth South Asian family on the structuring and formation of a private trust used to purchase a Singapore residential property.
- Advised an ultra-high-net-worth PRC family on the structuring and formation of a private trust used to purchase significant stakes in operating companies globally.