Introduction to the Private Client Practice

Nishith Desai Associates’ private client team acts as trusted advisors to our international clients, who primarily consist of high net worth individuals, global business families with residency/assets/family or obligations across countries, or the banks, trustees and other institutions representing such persons. We are typically called upon to assist with the accomplishment of a broad blend of objectives ranging from succession planning, asset protection, philanthropy, and maintenance of dependents, to other specialized individual, family and business related concerns. Nishith Desai, the founder of the firm, is himself a leading tax and estate planning lawyer and has been ranked No. 28 in a global top 50 "Gold List" by Tax Business, a UK-based international tax journal.

Our Expertise

Wealth planning law in India is complex and multi-layered as it requires simultaneous consideration of various laws including community specific succession laws (which treat Hindus, Muslims, Christians and other religions differently for the purposes of testamentary as well as intestate bequeathals), currency control regulations (which impose restrictions on the manner in which non-residents can own/transfer Indian property or Indian residents can plan their offshore wealth) and tax laws (which are constantly changing and broadening in scope). These, combined with conflict of law principles applicable to family members dispersed across countries, make the structuring exercise complex and challenging. Our highly personalized solutions aim to provide options that are workable in the long term and satisfy the wishes of our clients while at the same time being administratively simple, cost effective and compliant with applicable laws.

While we are only authorized to practice Indian law, our private client team comprises of professionals who are qualified in India, UK and the US and who have an understanding of foreign estate, trust and tax laws as well as conflict of laws issues. As a research based law firm, we also constantly update our capabilities through comparative research and analyses, which enables us to manage wealth planning projects spanning multiple jurisdictions and which may require the reconciliation of a personal wealth plan with applicable Indian and non-Indian laws.

This thumbnail allows access to a publication put together by our team and titled ‘Wealth & Estate Planning: Indian & International Perspectives”, which provides an overview of succession issues in India as well as jurisdictions such as the US, UK and Singapore.

Scope of Services

Our private client team provides services including the structuring and documentation of options such as international wills, trusts, gifts, charitable foundations as well as related advisory work. Some indicative areas of focus are as below:


  • Incentive structuring: Structuring of carried interest, earn outs, promoter holdings in offshore and onshore companies (listed and unlisted) from an Indian legal and tax perspective.
  • Migration by HNIs: Wealth planning issues pertaining to reverse migration of Indian-origin persons from other countries, including the US and UK.
  • High value offshore investments by Indian resident individuals: Structuring high-value offshore investments made by Indian HNIs to be compliant with the restrictions in Indian laws on exchange control and taxation.
  • Wills: Drafting, challenge to and enforceability of wills for the bequeathal of Indian assets including consideration of the domicile of the testator for cross-border bequeathal, impact on the will of community specific succession laws as well as probate proceedings including resealing of a foreign probate.
  • Lifetime and testamentary trusts: Setting up of trusts for asset protection, succession planning, care of dependents and lifetime gifts/distributions, particularly where objectives relate to assets across multiple jurisdictions/asset classes, or whether the proposed beneficiaries include future generations or beneficiaries situated in different parts of the world.
  • Issues requiring a reconciliation of Indian and non-Indian laws: For example, advice on the classification of Indian Hindu Undivided Families from a US trust law perspective or foundations from an Indian succession law perspective.

Business Families

  • Multi-jurisdiction succession planning: Assisting business families with succession planning structures that: (a) allow inclusion of family members situated across jurisdictions (b) provide allocations for investment into future businesses set up by family members; (c) allow flexibility for the economic and guardianship needs of dependent family members; and (d) contain checks and balances for the preservation of value of underlying assets.
  • Philanthropy: Structures that enable cross border family philanthropy including the preparation of trust funding arrangements that enable grants to charities, advice on a suitable vehicle for charity, Indian regulations pertaining to foreign charitable contributions.

Private client service providers

  • Advisory services to Wealth Managers: Assisting domestic and international wealth managers and private client service providers in structuring and implementation of asset protection and succession vehicles for their clients.
  • Advisory services to Trustees: Advising trustees in relation to their rights and responsibilities including trustee liability, fiduciary obligations, indemnification arrangements and the structuring/ restructuring and implementation of cross border trust arrangements involving testamentary trusts, asset protection trusts and private trust companies as well as jurisdiction specific trust models such as Cayman STAR trusts and BVI Vista trusts.

Select Publications

Video links to select seminars


  • Chambers & Partners has ranked Nishith Desai Associates as # 1 for Tax (2013), (2012), (2011)
  • PLC Leading firm for Taxation
  • Legal 500: No. 1 for International Tax
  • International Tax Review Asian Survey: Top ranking law firm, recognized for cross-border structuring.
  • Best performing Indian law firm by the RSG India Consulting in its client satisfaction report (2011)

Representative Clients

  • A FTSE 100 banking and financial services company;
  • A Forbes 500 multinational financial services company;
  • Prominent private bankers in the EMEA and APAC region;
  • NRI entrepreneurs
  • Promoters of national and regional conglomerates

Nishith Desai Associates 2013. All rights reserved.