Private foundations

Registration of Private Foundations in Panama

The law on private foundations is quite modern and flexible in Panama, even though it was inspired in the traditional European foundations. The foundation documents consist of a Foundation Charter and a private document called Regulations.

The Foundation Charter, registered through a Public Deed, must be registered at the Public Registry, but the Regulations are not required to be registered and remain a private document. It is within the Regulations that most of the confidential information regarding beneficiaries and manner of distributions is normally included, thus providing an excellent vehicle for anonymity.

The law also provides the option of designating a Protector or auditor or any other supervisory body, to oversee the actions of the Foundation Council (the Administrative body of the foundation, which may be a juridical entity or no less than 3 natural persons, which may also be appointed as president, secretary and treasurer). Also according to the law, assets endowed to the foundation constitute a separate patrimony from the personal assets of the Founder(s) and of any other person(s) or entity(ies) contributing to the foundation, and these cannot be contested on inheritance matters, thus clearly defining the legal ground in respect to forced heirships found in certain other jurisdictions.

This is a useful instrument in estate planning and protection of assets: like a trust, but operates very much like a corporation. Costs of constitution and annual maintenance are only a bit higher than those of a corporation, as detailed previously, except when the Foundation Charter and/or the Regulations are very long or complex additional legal fees and other costs will apply.

Foundations operate free of any taxes when income is generated outside of Panama and may change their domicile to or from another jurisdiction at any time. They must be constituted as non-profit entities, with a minimum endowment value of no less than US$10,000.00.

INTERTRUST’s knowledgeable staff would be happy to work with you on a confidential basis to constitute your offshore private foundation, and to take care of any confidential offshore administrative services you may require. Contact us for more information.