Private Interest Foundations in
Taking the Mystery out of Panama Foundations
Provide yourself the legal structure to reduce your tax liabilities and protect your assets from needless claims and lawsuits.
A Panamanian Private Interest Foundation (PPIF), more commonly known as a Panama foundation, can protect your estate from legal disputes after your death to ensure that your estate will pass to your chosen beneficiaries without undue complications.
The Panama Private Interest Foundation
First introduced in 1995, the Panama foundation is modeled after the Liechtenstein Family Foundation, or Stiftung, which has been the preferred vehicle for wealth management for generations of Europeans. The Panama foundation, though, has been developed to offer its holders and their assets superior protection from prying eyes than the Liechtenstein.
The benefits offered by these types of foundations differ from trusts in significant ways, which may not be known or fully understood by many in the western world. The best place to start demystifying Panama foundations may be to explain what a Panama foundation consists of.
Benefits of a Panama Foundation
A Panama foundation takes the best elements of a trust and an offshore company, or IBC, to create a legal entity to passively hold the assets of those who formed it. A foundation has no owners, so assets of the foundation, such as corporations, shares of stock, real estate and bank accounts, are held for the foundation’s beneficiaries (e.g. your heirs). Traditionally they were used to protect the wealth of the family and to make sure that its assets were passed on to succeeding generations.
Because there are no owners of a Panama foundation, reporting requirements are not necessary in many countries. For example, foundations are not specifically recognized by US tax Law, which allows you to decide the way in which your foundation is declared, and it may be structured in a way that allows it to legally avoid the reporting requirements of the IRS.
One way of doing this is to structure it as a charitable foundation rather than just as a family foundation. Using a private interest Panama foundation for private international church, humanitarian, philanthropic or other charitable activity is quite a well-established concept and we have a healthy number of clients that have pursued this path.
What makes Panama foundations unique:
- Complete customised by-laws that go into great length to detail the operation of the foundation, define who gets what and when, as well as establish whether the foundation will continue indefinitely (and, if so, who would take over).
- Customised charter to reflect the unique mission of the charitable, church or humanitarian nature of the foundation.
- The flexible nature of Panama’s Foundation Act allows for a private entity to be turned into a quasi-public one without the government meddling and oversight.
- Freedom to pursue spiritual, humanitarian, charitable purposes of the foundation in complete privacy.
The 3 key positions in the foundation need to be considered:
- The founder, which for privacy purposes can be our nominee company, if desired. (The founder is the same as a settlor in a trust).
- The council, which for the same reason can be our nominee company, if desired. (The council is the same as a trustee in a trust).
- Just as with a trust the protector appointment is a private agreement and should be decided by the client. The protector can have certain powers such as dismissing and appointing new council and is a check-and-balance feature common to both.
There are ways to ensure that a private interest charitable foundation can also meet the goals that would be normally desired for a private interest family foundation, as their two principal aims are not mutually incompatible.
TBA is engaged to providing our clients with the best possible consultation and legal services. We have been helping our clients protect their interest and assets since 1998. We are committed to building trust and creating long-term relationships, and we strictly observe attorney-client privilege.