There are many sophisticated estate planning strategies available to affluent families to ensure that the majority of their hard earned money stays within the family, rather than in the hands of the IRS and state taxing authorities. One such device is the Family Limited Partnership (“FLP”) or Family Limited Liability Company (“FLLC”.) FLPs & FLLCs are advantageous because they provide estate tax savings, gift tax savings, and asset protection.
A FLP or FLLC may own a variety of things, such as real estate or shares on your company. In order to retain control over the assets, you may choose to be the general partner or managing member. That way you can comfortably give your children a majority of the equity in the FLP/FLLC while maintaining control yourself.
By gifting limited partnership/membership interests to trusts or directly to members of your family, you reduce your taxable estate. Consequently, the amount of any applicable estate tax that your heirs will have to pay upon your death will be reduced by the ownership interest you gave away. Such gifts also apply for the annual gift tax exclusion.
As an article in Forbes points out, FLPs require not only good planning but good execution as well. Many times an FLP fails not because of a faulty set-up, but because of a poorly carried out transaction. The same can be said of FLLCs. It is therefore vital to coordinate between those who create your Family Entity, and those who will be working with it, such as accountants, to avoid problems.