Family Limited Partnership (FLP) for International Estate Planning

5 min read

Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) offer a strategic approach for families looking to manage substantial assets, providing avenues for wealth preservation, estate planning, and tax efficiency. By creating a partnership structured among family members, FLPs facilitate a controlled distribution and management of assets, distinguishing roles between general and limited partners. This framework not only enhances tax advantages and legal protections but also supports the seamless transition of business and wealth across generations. This article explores the mechanics, benefits, and the process of establishing an FLP – a must read for families considering this avenue for their estate planning needs!

Table of Contents

What is a Family Limited Partnership?

FLPs stand as a brilliant option for families with considerable assets, aimed at wealth preservation, estate planning, and tax minimisation. When structured correctly, FLPs can offer substantial savings on gift and estate taxes, alongside providing a shield against creditors and maintaining adaptability to change over time.

An FLP operates as a partnership among family members, facilitating collective ownership of assets within the family. It categorises family members into two roles: general partners and limited partners. General partners handle the FLP’s administrative and investment decisions and bear unlimited liability. They are tasked with the day-to-day management of the partnership, including making hiring decisions and managing financial transactions. Compensation for general partners is outlined in the partnership agreement, taking the form of either profit shares or a fixed annual salary.

Conversely, limited partners are not involved in management duties and face only limited liability, meaning their potential loss is restricted to their investment in the FLP. Their role includes voting on the partnership agreement and receiving distributions of interest and profits. This structure not only provides a framework for managing and protecting family assets but also allows for the distribution of income and profits in a tax-efficient manner, enhancing the overall financial well-being of the family estate.

Advantages of a Family Limited Partnership for International Estate Planning

An FLP provides a comprehensive framework for families to manage their wealth with a focus on asset protection, tax efficiency, and ensuring a smooth transition of the business to future generations, all within a controlled and familiar environment. Below are the top 5 benefits offered by FLPs.

Exclusive Family Ownership

FLPs allow business ownership to remain within the family, safeguarding the company’s future from external investors or lenders. This exclusivity provides a level of control and influence over the business that external partnerships cannot match. While working with family members presents its own set of challenges, it also facilitates a more cohesive business environment where every shareholder has a personal stake in the business’s success.

FLPs provide a distinct separation between business and personal finances, offering legal protection to individual assets. In financial distress, your personal finances remain shielded from business debts. Similarly, the business remains insulated from individual partners’ financial troubles thanks to charging order laws, ensuring that creditors can claim distributions but not gain control over the business.

Tax Advantages

FLPs are structured to mitigate the impact of estate and gift taxes, utilising the gift tax exclusion to gradually transfer assets to beneficiaries tax-free. Additionally, assets within an FLP are often valued lower for tax purposes due to restrictions on control and marketability, reducing estate taxes. Importantly, any growth in asset value post-transfer is considered outside of your estate, minimising the taxable portion of your inheritance.

Simplified Business Transfer

Transferring business ownership through an FLP is streamlined, allowing for gradual gifting of shares. This process not only eases the transition of management but also provides ample time for heirs to acclimate to their roles and responsibilities within the business. The share-based structure facilitates the division and transfer of ownership, offering flexibility in planning for the business’s future leadership.

Customisable Partnership Agreement

The FLP’s partnership agreement offers a platform to set conditions on asset management, ensuring heirs are prepared and responsible enough to handle their inheritance. By including stipulations such as age restrictions, you can prevent premature asset transfer or sale, safeguarding the assets from potential mismanagement and shielding beneficiaries from undue tax burdens.

How to Establish a Family Limited Partnership for International Estate Planning? 

Establishing an FLP is a nuanced process that, when executed with precision and legal guidance, becomes a robust instrument for wealth management and preservation within a family. Here’s a bird’s eye view into the steps involved in creating an FLP:

Choosing Partners

Identifying the participants in the FLP is the foundational step. This involves deciding which family members will take on the roles of general and limited partners. General partners have management control and face unlimited liability, whereas limited partners have no management obligations, and their liability is restricted to their investment in the FLP. The selection process should consider the financial acumen, responsibility level, and investment goals of potential partners.

Drafting a Partnership Agreement

Creating a partnership agreement requires careful consideration of each partner’s rights, responsibilities, and share in the partnership. This legally binding document dictates the operation of the FLP, including profit distribution, governance, and procedures for adding or removing partners. Given its complexity and the need to adhere to state laws, enlisting legal expertise is crucial to draft an agreement that meets the family’s objectives while being compliant with legal requirements.

Contributing Assets

Partners contribute assets to the FLP, which may range from cash, real estate, to investments or shares in family businesses. This step officially transfers ownership of the assets to the FLP, necessitating accurate documentation and valuation. The nature of assets contributed can significantly impact the FLP’s financial strategy and tax implications, making strategic asset selection vital.

Valuation of Assets

An independent appraisal of the contributed assets establishes their market value, crucial for tax purposes and determining each partner’s capital account. The valuation process can affect gift and estate tax liabilities when transferring partnership interests to heirs, making it a critical step in FLP formation.

Formalising the FLP

Once the partnership agreement is finalised and assets contributed, the FLP must be formally established through state registration. This typically involves filing a certificate of limited partnership along with other required documents, which vary by state. This step legalises the FLP, making it a recognised entity for conducting business and holding assets.

Maintaining Compliance

Effective governance of an FLP requires adherence to the outlined partnership agreement and compliance with legal standards. This includes holding regular partnership meetings, maintaining detailed financial records, and managing the FLP in accordance with both the agreement and state laws. Regular reviews of the FLP’s financial and legal standing, coupled with adapting to changes in laws or the family’s financial landscape, are essential for the long-term success of the FLP.

Engaging in the detailed planning and establishment of an FLP not only facilitates tax-efficient wealth transfer and asset protection but also instils a framework for managing family wealth across generations. Legal and financial advisement throughout this process ensures that the FLP aligns with the family’s goals and complies with legal requirements, securing its effectiveness as a tool for estate planning and asset management.

Conclusion

The establishment of a Family Limited Partnership requires careful planning, a clear understanding of its structure, and a strategic approach to asset management. As families navigate the complexities of wealth preservation and estate planning, the role of FLPs becomes increasingly significant, offering a blend of tax efficiency, asset protection, and flexibility. Whether you’re in the initial stages of considering an FLP or ready to take the steps towards its creation, professional guidance is essential. PBL Law Group specialises in estate planning and wealth management, providing the expertise needed to establish and manage FLPs effectively. Contact us to secure your family’s financial future!

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Picture of Authored By<br>Raea Khan

Authored By
Raea Khan

Director Lawyer, PBL Law Group

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