The Foundations (Guernsey) Law, 2012 (Law) came into force on 8 January 2013.  Whilst Guernsey is not the first jurisdiction to provide for foundations, the Law does provide a number of unique options for individuals wishing to take advantage of the benefits provided by foundations.  The purpose of this note is to provide both a general summary of the features of a Guernsey foundation, as well as a summary of these unique options that will be available under the Law.

Key Features of a Guernsey Foundation

Guernsey Foundation

Details

Founder

A Guernsey Foundation is formed by 1 or more Founders. The Founder can be an individual or a body corporate and can be resident in any country of the world.

Actions of the Founder usually upon formation:

  • Seeks to register the Foundation.
  • Determines the purpose of the Foundation.
  • Creates the Constitution of the Foundation.
  • Provides assets to the Foundation i.e. the initial endowment.
  • Appoints the initial Councilor(s).
  • Appoints a Guardian (if needed).

Initial Endowment

There is no minimum initial endowment and may comprise any property, movable or immovable, tangible or intangible in any country.

Beneficiaries

A Guernsey Foundation can have two types of Beneficiaries: enfranchised and disenfranchised beneficiaries.

An enfranchised beneficiary is entitled to a copy of the Constitution of the Foundation, records and accounts and to apply to the Court to change the purposes or dissolve the Foundation.

A disenfranchised beneficiary is not entitled to any information. This feature is useful and appealing to those Founders with minor children or where the Founder does not want each of the Beneficiaries to know their interests or the interests of other Beneficiaries.

Council

A Guernsey Foundation is managed by its Council. The Members of the Council are called the Councilors.

Each Foundation in Guernsey should appoint at least 2 Councilors unless the Constitution permits a single Councilor.

The Councilor of a Foundation can be an individual or a corporate body and be resident in any country of the world. However, unless one Councilor or the Guardian is a Guernsey licensed fiduciary, the Foundation must have a local resident agent to maintain the Foundation’s records.

Guardian

A Guernsey Foundation is required to appoint a Guardian only if it has disenfranchised beneficiaries or if it was created for a purpose and does not have individual beneficiaries.

The duties of the Guardian are to ensure that the purpose or benefits of the Foundation are always enforced.

Constitution

A Guernsey Foundation is administered in accordance with its Constitution, which comprises two parts; the Charter and the Rules.

The Charter contains the name and purpose of the Foundation, its initial endowment and duration.

The Rules include more detailed information and they set out the operating provisions of the Foundation. Such information includes the functions of Councilors, appointment of officials, remuneration of officials, obligations of Beneficiaries etc.

Confidentiality

The following information is provided to the Registry and is available on public record:

  • Name of Foundation.
  • Registered number of Foundation.
  • Name and address of Councilors.
  • Names and address of Guardians.
  • Details of registered office of the Foundation.

Taxation

A Guernsey Foundation is not liable to any tax in Guernsey.

Duration for Set- up

Around 4 Weeks 

Guernsey Foundation Distinctive Benefits

  • The Founder can retain as much or as little control as he wishes.
  • A Foundation is not subject to the rule against perpetuities and can therefore carry on indefinitely unless this is required by the Founder.
  • There are no restrictions as to the assets or structures which can be held by the Foundation.
  • The filing requirements are minimal and taxation is low or nil. It is therefore relatively cheap to set up.
  • Dedications to the Foundation may be tax deductible for the person dedicating the assets.
  • A foundation represents an alternative tax planning and wealth management structure to the traditional trust, which may be more attractive to clients from civil law jurisdictions.

The Valsen Advantage

  1. Speedy, Efficient and consistent Services.
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  3. Expert advice on structuring options.
  4. Dedicated ongoing compliance support.