The Benefits of NH Civil Law Foundations

New Hampshire is a leading jurisdiction for civil law foundations, which can be appealing to U.S.-based families seeking to set up private family trust companies as well as to international families.
NH State House

New Hampshire has already distinguished itself as a leading state for administering trusts. But now, the Granite State has also become a leading jurisdiction for establishing a civil law foundation, says Thanda Fields Brassard, General Counsel of Fiduciary Trust of New England.

In an article published in March in Bloomberg’s Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal, Brassard and three co-authors — Steven Burke of McLane Middleton, Von Sanborn of Day Pitney LLP, and Constance Shields of Withers Bergman LLP — detail the New Hampshire Foundation Act’s impact on domestic estate planning. With the enactment of this law in October 2017, New Hampshire became the first state to permit the establishment of civil law foundations. “Thanks to New Hampshire legislators, advisors now have the option to use a New Hampshire-based foundation as a wealth management tool for clients residing in civil law jurisdictions,” the article states.

Brassard and her co-authors point out that New Hampshire-based foundations are likely to appeal to international clients seeking to “on-shore” their wealth management structures to the U.S. They can also be useful for domestic clients, particularly those seeking to set up a private trust company that offers wealth management services exclusively for their families. “With its corporate structure and formalized governance, but no shareholders, a foundation may be the ideal legal form for such a company,” Brassard and her co-authors write.

Why? A foundation combines features of both trusts and corporations. Like a trust, for instance, a foundation controls and manages assets for its beneficiaries. However, unlike a trust — and more like a corporation — foundations are separate legal entities from their founders, directors or beneficiaries. This allows the foundation to hold assets independently. From an asset protection point of view, the authors argue, foundations can be an attractive alternative to trusts under the right circumstances.


  • Thanda Fields Brassard, JDVice President & Trust Counsel; General Counsel, Fiduciary Trust of New England
    Thanda advises individuals and families on their estate and tax planning matters, and has significant experience in estate settlement and trust administration. In addition, she ser...

The opinions expressed in this publication are as of the date issued and subject to change at any time. Nothing contained herein is intended to constitute legal, tax or accounting advice and clients should discuss any proposed arrangement or transaction with their legal or tax advisors.

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