In the past year, Jonathan Godwin-Austen has been busy with ‘two particularly large generational transfer projects for big landed families’ – an area he has come to specialise in. He describes the steps involved: ‘Defining who “family” is, who the key people are, who should be involved in the decision-making, who should have control, and who should have wealth and in what way.’
Highly regarded by colleagues and clients alike for his affable nature and technical ability, he is an expert on trust, estate and tax law, and on the preservation, management, enhancement and devolution of their capital wealth. Most of his work is UK-centric: ‘My peculiar characteristic’, he says. And Hunters does have a unique reputation for having nurtured relationships with multiple generations of British families during its 300-year history.
Although trusts are still used, they are under intense scrutiny from HMRC, ‘because there’s been a wrong perception that the only reason people have them is to mitigate tax’, Godwin-Austen explains. All is not lost, though: ‘In the next ten years or so the ball may roll back the other way on that, and the advantage of trusts to society will receive more attention – and not be regarded as a way that toffs avoid tax!’