Like corporate entities, private clients seek to reduce their "international tax exposure". The ongoing process of globalisation means that strategic assets, revenue and succession planning have become challenges extending well beyond national borders.
The lifestyle and property of wealthy families and private individuals have become globalised in many different ways: bank accounts and properties at home and abroad, shares in international companies and alternative investments have, over the past few years, increasingly created a situation in which a family's or a private individual's assets are managed by more than one asset manager.
Today, tax planning in different countries must be properly coordinated if it is to give optimal results both locally and globally. Our international network "Private Client Solutions" offers private individuals and families cross-frontier, tailormade strategies for present wealth management as for a smooth transfer to the next generation.
To guarantee the long-term security of assets down through the generations whilst at the same time retaining flexibility, it is essential that international tax and asset planning is carried out with close co-ordination between the investment and assets managers on the one hand, and the legal and tax advisers on the other. The larger and more diversified the assets, the more complex the planning process.
For wealthy private clients and their families, PwC's international Private Client Solutions Network, present in more than 40 offices and - in Europe alone - in 18 countries, enables it to offer bespoke international asset and succession planning services. Only through a network of this type is it possible for tax strategies in the various countries to be aligned and optimised - not just nationally but globally.
One of the priorities for PwC's specialists is to work on the tax-optimised design of (anticipated) succession planning, so that (deferred) inheritance and gift taxes can be reduced, or avoided entirely, at both national and international level. One key consideration here is the need to start by optimising the structure of existing assets at an early stage.
Drawing up a private assets and liabilities statement is the first step in structured asset planning. If this statement is continually updated and maintained to reflect the overall asset position in terms of market and tax value, including cash-flow documentation, in compressed and concise form, this summary of the status quo can subsequently be referred to at any time. Without it, investment decisions cannot be made on a meaningful basis.
Expert advice is also required when investing in real estate abroad. Here, our Private Client Solutions team can point out the options available, from a tax and legal perspective, when acquiring, maintaining or selling properties, or transferring them as gifts. If you find that you are spending longer and longer periods in holiday properties over the year, we also provide support on changes of residence. Naturally, private individuals often consider changing residence to a foreign country not only out of preference for a particular holiday destination, but often because the overall tax situation can be optimised by taking up residence in a carefully selected country. The support of an international advisory team is essential when deciding which country is the most attractive in the light of the individual's asset and income situation.
Planning should really start much earlier: whilst you are still actively employed, you should already be starting to prepare systematically for the transition to retirement through tax efficient planning of issues such as succession and liquidity - so that you, too, really can enjoy your well-earned retirement.
Of Counsel, PwC Germany
Tel: +49 211 981-2757