The Decision Tree Before Creating a Family Office — Susan Schoenfeld

Point of View
4 min readApr 3, 2023


Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

Susan R. Schoenfeld, CEO and Founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC, serves as a ‘thought partner’ to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit. Susan is a nationally recognized family wealth consultant and award-winning Thought Leader; she provides guidance on legacy, next-generation, stewardship, governance, leadership succession, and philanthropy. Susan recently spoke about the decision tree a family should consider before deciding to launch their own single family office.

If you don’t have the proper team in place to advise on setting up family office structures, you’re doing yourself and your family a disservice. There are many landmines and you can’t just follow the fact pattern of the Lender case without considering a number of other factors.

When I help families think through structuring their family office, some of the first questions that I ask are:

· What is the ideal outcome for your family? What are you solving for?

· In what timeframe?

· Identify the various goals and objectives, which are likely different for every family. Some families establish their family office strictly for investing, others for the roll-up of reporting of all of their investments, and still other families want the ancillary services, whether bill-pay, taxes, managing household staff, next gen education, concierge or any number of other services.

· Identify the various risks the family faces, known and yet unknown.

· Who are the various stakeholders? Are you just focusing on the founder generation and their needs? Or are you looking at their children’s generation G2? Or, are you looking multi-generationally to G3 and beyond? Additional stakeholders might be the CIO, whom you’ve hired in from the outside and want to make sure that they are well-incented to come, to stay and to build their team.

· What services does the family want, how do they want them delivered, and how much are they willing to pay for them?

That all goes into the decision tree of whether you outsource some or all family office functions, collaborate with other families to form a private multi-family office, sign on with a large existing MFO scaled to provide all the needed services, or whether you hire the talent and manage all of those services in-house, with your own dedicated in-house single family office team.

Susan Schoenfeld, a public speaker & thought partner to families of wealth and their advisors, is an award-winning thought leader. Susan’s switch from successful estate planning attorney and CPA to a trusted family advisor and thought-partner was inspired by families of wealth asking her searching questions beyond estate tax planning. As a conflict-free advisor who provides no investment, tax, or legal advice and sells no product, Susan shares her insights directly with wealthy families and with financial services experts. She is active as a keynote speaker and a leader of break-out sessions and workshops at conferences throughout the US.



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