UK: Death, Taxes and the Family Limited Partnership (FLP)

Last Updated: 13 July 2010
Article by Howard Bilton

It is said that there are only two things in life which are certain:- death and that England will never win the football world cup again. For UK expatriates liability to UK IHT is determined by an individual's domicile and by the situs of the asset rather than by his residency. All non UK residents who are UK domiciled are subject to UK IHT at a rate of 40% on the value of their worldwide estate, yes all of it, or more accurately everything which exceeds the nil rate band (currently £325,000 for each individual).

HMRC are reluctant to provide a ruling on domicile. It is still possible to get these rulings, despite commentary to the contrary, but it can take a long time and the outcome can be uncertain. Without a ruling it can be difficult for expats to know. Even if an expat is sure a new domicile of choice has been acquired that is not necessarily the end of the matter. Retaining a new domicile is difficult. It is quite possible that an UK domicile could be revived if the expat had to leave their new country because he gets a job or retires elsewhere.

Given the uncertainty, volatility and unpredictability of domicile, it is sensible for expats to put planning in place which will guarantee that their estate is not subject to the 40% tax.

All property held in a discretionary trust is outside the charge to UK IHT but getting it into trust is expensive while an UK domicile is retained. Transfers attract an entry charge of 20% and the trust fund will be subject to the anniversary charges (every 10 years) and the exit charges. No such problems arise with an FLP.

The FLP is a partnership formed between a general partner which is a company and up to 19 limited partners all of whom are family members. The general partner controls the FLP and manages its affairs and is generally owned and controlled by the head of the family

Step 1 is for the family patriarch to transfer valuable assets to the FLP in return for an interest in the FLP worth the same as the assets. There is no loss to his estate so no charge to lifetime IHT. This is just an asset swap.

Step 2 is that over time "shares" in the partnership are transferred to the limited partners. The general partner remains in control but divests value so reducing potential IHT if and when the owner of the general partner becomes not alive.

The gift of the partnership interests to the other family members will be a potentially exempt transfer ("a PET"). Provided the donor survives the transfer by 7 years no IHT will be due. The other limited partners can then gift their interest in the FLP to other limited partners at any time so children can pass to grandchildren and onwards through the generations. It is possible for the FLP to allocate different shares in income and capital to different partners so rights to income can be retained whilst capital value is given away. It is all rather splendid and ideal. The head of family can retain control and income rights while giving away capital value and losing IHT liability. Compare this to the alternative of just giving away assets outright 7 years before death with the complete loss of control this necessitates. Many would be reluctant to do this as they would not want to rely on their relatives to look after them financially but if they retain sufficient assets to ensure they are self sufficient they will almost certainly retain liability to IHT. Many wealthy individuals don't envisage needing the capital but do need the income and would like to retain control. An FLP achieves all this so is really jolly nice indeed. There is a growing consensus amongst international tax specialists, the writer included, that FLPs could prove one of the most effective alternative planning devices to trusts for British expats.

FLPs can be formed in many different jurisdictions. On the face of it there is no reason to go offshore and they can be formed in the UK but an UK FLP is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, UK Partnership law requires any partnership to be a proper business. An inactive asset holding/ property holding FLP, as many will be, would not normally be a business within that definition. There is no such requirement offshore.

Secondly a UK FLP falls within the definition of a "collective investment scheme" (within s.235 FSMA 2000). Thus the FLP is required to be regulated by the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA). If the FLP is established and operates overseas these regulations do not apply so FSA regulation is not required.

Of all the offshore jurisdictions I prefer Guernsey. Guernsey FLPs are recognised for UK tax purposes and Guernsey is a stable, respected and well regulated jurisdiction. Guernsey FLPs give the same advantages as an UK FLP without the added complications and expense.

FLPs are tax transparent. The partners are simply taxed in their country of residence on the FLP profits in proportion to the interest they hold in the FLP exactly as they are now. Subject to any local tax considerations there are generally no CGT or Income Tax advantages or disadvantages. The FLP is purely an IHT planning tool.

In summary, then, if an UK expat can establish or is certain that he/she is no longer domiciled in the UK, form a trust and bang all your stuff into it. If you are still UK domiciled or not sure, either give all your stuff away and get looked after by your donees or use an FLP.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Howard Bilton
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions