A family limited partnership was once a rather esoteric way for wealthy families to centralize the management of real estate and various pots of money. But this is not a normal tax year .
The arcane device has suddenly become popular because of the scheduled expiration of the $5.12 million gift tax exemption at the end of this year.
For years, the exemption for gifts to heirs had been $1 million, and it’s not clear what will happen to the tax break, just one of many tax and spending measures expiring at the end of 2012.
But wealth advisers cautioned that the rush to set up a partnership in order to use the tax break could lead families to do something that is not right for them.
For some families, a partnership is attractive. It is a way to combine money to reach the higher investment requirements that hedge fund and private equity managers require. But its most alluring feature may be the ability to discount the value of the assets put into the partnerships because the shares distributed from it are less liquid since only another family member can buy them.
A discount of 25 percent generally does not attract scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service, and that could allow someone to increase a $5.12 million gift exemption to $7 million. Since the partnerships are not overly expensive to administer, several advisers said they have seen people starting them with as little as $2 million.Page 1 of 7 | Next Page