Family Limited Partnership (FLP) or Limited Liability Company (FLLC)
A properly formed and maintained FLP or FLLC can facilitate the transfer of your business to the next generation, protect assets from potential creditors, and minimize income, gift, and estate taxes.
An FLP can also guarantee that there will be continuous family ownership of the business because each family member’s ability to sell or transfer his or her interest to nonfamily members is restricted.
If you own and operate a family business, a family limited partnership (FLP) or family limited liability company (FLLC) could become a vital component of your estate plan. A properly formed and maintained FLP or FLLC can facilitate the transfer of your business to the next generation, protect assets from potential creditors, and minimize income, gift, and estate taxes.
What is an FLP/FLLC?
An FLP is a special form of limited partnership where members of a family serve as general and limited partners. An FLLC is a corporate entity owned by family members who may or may not serve as managers.
With an FLP, general partners run the business. Limited partners have no vote and no say about day-to-day operations, but, they have limited liability; they aren’t liable for the debts of the FLP in excess of their contributed capital.
With an FLLC, all of the family members, even if they serve as managers, have limited liability (as with any corporate entity).
With a typical limited partnership, a general partner who has experience teams up with limited partners who have capital. In the family context, however, the senior generation typically starts out as both the general and the limited partners. They then gift the limited partnership interests to the younger generation. The general partners can gift as much as 99% of the business to the limited partners, keeping as little as 1%. This can be an ideal solution if you want to transfer ownership of your business to your children, but also want to keep control until they can gain experience and become competent enough to manage the business on their own.
An FLP can provide some measure of asset protection for the limited partners. It generally takes a court order (called a charging order) for a creditor to reach a limited partnership interest, and even this only requires the FLP to pay income to the creditor instead of the partner until the debt is paid. In this case, the creditor does not become a substitute partner. He or she must wait until the general partner decides to distribute income (which may be a very long time). In addition, FLP assets are likewise protected from loss due to divorce. The general partner, however, does not receive the same protection and is personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the FLP.
Income tax considerations
An FLP is a pass-through entity for income tax purposes. This means that the IRS does not recognize an FLP as a taxpayer (as it does for a corporation), and income of the FLP passes through to the partners. So, you can shift business income and future appreciation of the business assets to other members of your family who may be in a lower tax bracket. The family as a whole can enjoy tax savings.
Gift and estate tax considerations
One of the most powerful advantages of an FLP is that it can help minimize federal gift and estate taxes. This is accomplished in three ways:
FLPs must comply with state law and IRS requirements
An FLP is subject to more restrictive rules than other forms of business entities. Care must be taken to create a valid FLP in the eyes of the state and the IRS. An FLP will be recognized only if it is formed for a valid business purpose. The FLP form will be disregarded if the IRS or the state finds that it was formed solely to avoid taxes.
Some specific purposes for creating an FLP include:
Additionally, an FLP may own a closely held business (other than a corporation that has made an election to be taxed as an “S” corporation), real estate, marketable securities, or almost any other investment asset. Homes, cottages, or other personal use assets are normally not suitable for an FLP.
Tips for forming and maintaining a valid FLP:
|Investment Advisor Representative: Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Registered Representative: Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and Affinity Wealth Advisors Inc are not affiliated.|
Prepared by Forefield Inc. Copyright 2011.