Category: Exemptions

Tips to Reduce Size of your Taxable Estate

Tips to Reduce Size of your Taxable Estate

The current lifetime estate and gift tax exemption is set to be cut by half after 2025, unless Congress acts to extend it, which doesn’t seem likely in the current financial environment. There are tips to help reduce the size of your taxable estate, reported in a recent article “Smarter Ways To Make Estate Planning Gifts” from Forbes.

It’s generally better to give property than to give cash, especially investment property. Recipients are less likely to sell these gifts and spend the proceeds. It’s more likely that cash will be spent rather than invested for the long term. Investment property is almost always a better gift for the long term.

However, property gifts come with potential taxes. To help reduce the size of your taxable estate, make gifts of the correct properties. There are a few principals to follow.

Don’t give investment property with paper losses. The recipient of a gift of property gets the same tax basis in the property as the person making the gift. The appreciation occurring during the holding period is taxed when the gift recipient sells the property.

If the property didn’t appreciate when the owner had it, the beneficiary’s tax basis will be the lower of the owner’s basis and the current market value. When the investment lost value, the beneficiary reduces the basis to the current fair market value. The loss incurred for the owner won’t be deductible by anyone. There is no winner here. It is best for the owner to hold the loss property or sell it, so at least they can deduct the loss and gift the after-tax proceeds.

Give appreciated investment property after a price decline. This makes maximum use of the annual gift tax exclusion and minimizes the use of the giver’s lifetime estate and gift tax exemption. You can give more shares of a stock or mutual fund by making the gift when prices are lower.

Let’s say shares of a mutual fund were at $60—you could give 266.67 shares tax free under the annual gift tax exclusion ($17,000 in 2023). If the price dropped to $50, you could give 320 shares without exceeding the exclusion limit.

When the recipient holds the shares and the price recovers, they will have received more long-term wealth. The giver would not have incurred estate and gift taxes or used part of their lifetime exemption.

This is also an example of why families should consider gift giving throughout the year and not just at year’s end. An even better way: determine early in the year how much you intend to give, and then look for a good time during the year to maximize the tax-free value of the gift.

It’s good to give property most likely to appreciate in value. If the goal is to remove future appreciation from the estate, gift property you expect to appreciate. This also serves to maximize the wealth of loved ones, especially appreciated when the beneficiary is in a lower tax bracket. When the property is eventually sold, the beneficiary likely will pay capital gains taxes on the appreciation at a lower rate than the giver would. You pass on more after-tax wealth and reduce the family’s overall taxes.

Retain property if it has appreciated significantly. When it’s time to sell the property and the loved one is in the 0% capital gains tax bracket, it’s best to make a gift of the property and let them sell it. Even if the loved one is in the 10% capital gains tax bracket, this still make sense if you’re in the higher capital gains tax bracket. But there are some things to consider. If the gain pushes the recipient into a higher tax bracket and triggers higher taxes on all their income, it won’t be a welcome gift. If there’s no urgent need to sell the property, you can ensure a 0% capital gain by simply holding onto the investment.

Give income-generating assets. If you hold income-generating investments and you don’t need the income, consider giving those to family members in a lower tax bracket. This reduces taxes on the income and the recipient is also less likely to sell the asset to raise cash when it’s generating income.

Remember the Kiddie Tax. Heirs who are age 19 or under (or under 24 if they are full-time college students) are hit with their parents’ highest tax rate on investment income they earn above a certain amount, which was $2,300 in 2022. At this point, gifts of income-producing property create tax liabilities, not benefits.

These are just a few tips to help you reduce to size of your taxable estate. Work with your estate planning attorney to identify any additional tax reductions available. If you would like to learn more about tax planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Forbes (Dec. 27, 2022) “Smarter Ways To Make Estate Planning Gifts”

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The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 5 - Bad Moon Rising: The Corporate Transparency Act

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 5 is out now!

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 5 is out now!

Happy New Year! To kick off the first episode of 2023, host Brad Wiewel, sits down to discuss the Corporate Transparency Act and how it relates to trusts.

There is a Bad Moon Rising (to quote Creedence Clearwater Revival). The bad moon is the Corporate Transparency Act which is going to REQUIRE all LLCs, corporations and Limited Partnerships to register with the federal government! The law becomes effective January 1, 2024.

This podcast focuses on some of the provisions of the new law and the consequences and penalties for failure to comply. It is a MUST LISTEN if you or someone you know or work with has an entity, because this is SERIOUS STUFF!

In the podcast we mention that we have a new service we are providing called Business Shield . It is designed to maintain entities and keep them in compliance with both state, and now federal law. Simply click on Business Shield™ to be taken to the page on our website. Please let us know if you would like to discuss Business Shield™ with us and we’ll be happy to schedule a complimentary phone consultation with one of our attorneys.

In each episode of The Estate of The Union podcast, host and lawyer Brad Wiewel will give valuable insights into the confusing world of estate planning, making an often daunting subject easier to understand. It is Estate Planning Made Simple! The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 5 is out now! The episode can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or anywhere you get your podcasts. If you would prefer to watch the video version, please visit our YouTube page. Please click on the link below to listen to the new installment of The Estate of The Union podcast. We hope you enjoy it.

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

Texas Trust Law focuses its practice exclusively in the area of wills, probate, estate planning, asset protection, and special needs planning. Brad Wiewel is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We provide estate planning services, asset protection planning, business planning, and retirement exit strategies.

www.texastrustlaw.com/read-our-books

Unified Tax Credit is Central to Estate Planning

Unified Tax Credit is Central to Estate Planning

Most people know they pay taxes on earnings and when money grows. However, there are also taxes when money or other assets are given away or passed to another after death. The unified tax credit is central to estate planning, says a recent article titled “What Are The Unified Credit’s Gift Tax Exclusions?” from yahoo!.

First, what is the Unified Tax Credit? Sometimes called the “unified transfer tax,” the unified tax credit combines two separate lifetime tax exemptions. The first is the gift tax exclusion, which concerns assets given to other individuals during your lifetime. The other is the estate tax exemption, which is the value of an estate not subject to taxes when it is inherited. Your estate or heirs will only pay taxes on the portion of assets exceeding this threshold.

The unified tax credit is an exemption applied both to taxable gifts given during your lifetime and the estate you plan to leave to others.

If you would rather gift with warm hands while living, you can pull from this unified credit and avoid paying additional taxes on monetary gifts in the year you gave them. However, if you’d rather keep your assets and distribute them after death, you can save the unified credit for after death. You can also use the unified tax credit to do a little of both.

The unified tax credit changes regularly, depending on estate and gift tax regulations. The gift and estate tax exemptions doubled in 2017, so the unified credit right now sits at $12.06 million per person in 2022. This will expire at the end of 2025, when credits will drop down to lower levels, unless new legislation passes.

Up to 2025, a married couple can give away as much as $24.12 million without having to pay additional taxes. The recipient of this generous gift would not have to pay additional taxes either. If you consider the rate of estate taxes—40%—optimizing this unified tax credit means a lot more money stays in your loved one’s pockets.

How does it work? Let’s say you have four children and each one is going to receive a taxable gift of $500,000. You can pull from your unified tax credit the same year you give these gifts. This way, there’s no need for you to pay gift taxes on the $2 million.

However, this generosity will reduce your lifetime unified credit from $12.06 million to $10.06 million. If you die and leave an estate worth $11.5 million, your heirs will need to pay estate taxes on the $1.44 million difference.

At current estate tax rates, roughly $700,000 would go to the IRS, or more, depending upon your state!

The unified tax credit doesn’t take into account or apply to annual gift exclusions. These annual exclusions allow you to give away even more money during your lifetime and it doesn’t count against your unified limit. As of 2022, taxpayers may give $16,000 per year to any individual as a tax-exempt gift. You can give $16,000 to as many people as you wish each year without being subject to gift taxes. This is a simple way to gift with warm hands without paying gift taxes or reducing the unified limit. The annual gift is per person, so if you are married, you and your spouse may give, $32,000 per year to as many people as you want and the gift is excluded.

Taxable gifts exceeding the annual gift exclusion amount must be properly documented and should be done in concert with your overall estate plan. They offer great tax advantages, and perhaps more importantly, provide the giver with the joy of seeing their wealth translate into a better life for their loved ones. The unified tax credit is central to estate planning so make the time to discuss your options with your estate planning attorney. If you are interested in learning more about tax planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: yahoo! (Nov. 18, 2022) “What Are The Unified Credit’s Gift Tax Exclusions?”

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The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

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The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 5 - Bad Moon Rising: The Corporate Transparency Act

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 is out now!

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

This is the time of the year when people feel most inclined to provide donations to organizations and charities that mean something to them. The saying goes that “Charity Begins at Home”, but sometimes you can give money to charity and bring it back home too – No Kidding!

In this episode, Brad Wiewel discusses charitable donations and how you can use “give and get” techniques to turn those donations into income and tax deductions for yourself. Just in time for the holiday season. You do not want to miss this one! These are complex estate and tax matters, requiring the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney for optimal results. If you would like to learn more about charitable giving in your estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

In each episode of The Estate of The Union podcast, host and lawyer Brad Wiewel will give valuable insights into the confusing world of estate planning, making an often daunting subject easier to understand. It is Estate Planning Made Simple! The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4  – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts, or anywhere you get your podcasts. If you would prefer to watch the video version, please visit our YouTube page. Please click on the link below to listen to the new installment of The Estate of The Union podcast. We hope you enjoy it.

The Estate of The Union Season 2|Episode 4 – How To Give Yourself a Charitable Gift is out now!

 

Texas Trust Law focuses its practice exclusively in the area of wills, probate, estate planning, asset protection, and special needs planning. Brad Wiewel is Board Certified in Estate Planning and Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We provide estate planning services, asset protection planning, business planning, and retirement exit strategies.

www.texastrustlaw.com/read-our-books

IRS Announced New Lifetime and Gift Tax Exemptions

IRS Announced New Lifetime and Gift Tax Exemptions

There’s big news from the IRS for people who use gifting as part of their estate planning. The IRS announced new lifetime and gift tax exemptions. The annual exclusion increased from $16,000 in 2022 to $17,000 in gifts in 2023, without needing to use up lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion or paying a gift tax. The article “Lifetime Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Will Hit $12.92 Million in 2023” from Forbes provides details.

The “unified credit,” aka the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption, will also jump to $12.92 million in 2023, up from $12.06 million in 2022. Couples may combine their exemption, so a wealthy couple making gifts in 2023 can pass along $25.84 million.

Here is another way to look at what this change means. If you’ve already maxed out on non-taxable gifts, you can give an extra $1.72 million to heirs in 2023, in addition to making $34,000 per couple ($17,000 x two) in annual gifts to every child, grandchild, siblings, niece or nephew or anyone you’re feeling generous towards.

In addition to making these generous $17,000 gifts, you can also pay an unlimited amount towards someone else’s tuition or medical expenses without any impact to your lifetime exemption. An important detail: the payments must be made directly to the school or the medical provider.

The estate tax is still 40%, but the $12.92 million per-person lifetime exemption is just one of many strategies used to transfer wealth. Others include the use of GRATs and other trusts to leverage the exemption. The bear market provides numerous planning opportunities.

Keep in mind that, while the IRS announced new lifetime and gift tax exemptions for 2023, the $12.92 million exemption is not forever. Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the lifetime exemption will sunset in the start of 2026, and the decrease will be more than half its current value.

Whether the estate and gift tax exemption will actually drop so dramatically depends on the politics of Congress and the White House and the budget and deficit pressures of the year. An early version of the Build Back Better proposal would have cut the exemption in half but did not win enough votes to pass.

Another reason to make these lifetime gifts sooner rather than later? As of 2022, seventeen states and the District of Columbia still have state estate taxes and/or inheritance taxes. For wealthy families, these exemptions can make a big difference in estate tax liabilities. If you would like to learn more about tax exemptions in your estate planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Forbes (Oct. 18, 2022) “Lifetime Estate and Gift Tax Exemption Will Hit $12.92 Million in 2023”

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The Estate of The Union Season 2, Episode 3 – Mis-Titled Assets Can Wreck Your Planning out now!

 

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What is the Best Way to Leave Money to Children?

What is the Best Way to Leave Money to Children?

Parents and grandparents want what’s best for children and grandchildren. We love generously sharing with them during our lifetimes—family vacations, values and history. If we can, we also want to pass on a financial legacy with little or no complications, explains a recent article titled “4 Tax-Smart Ways to Share the Wealth with Kids” from Kiplinger. What is the best way to leave money to children?

There are many ways to transfer wealth from one person to another. However, there are only a handful of tools to effectively transfer financial gifts for future generations during our lifetimes. UTMA/UGMA accounts, 529 accounts, IRAs, and Irrevocable Gift Trusts are the most widely used.

Which option will be best for you and your family? It depends on how much control you want to have, the goal of your gift and its size.

UTMA/UGMA Accounts, the short version for Uniform Transfers to Minor or Uniform Gift to Minor accounts, allows gifts to be set aside for minors who would otherwise not be allowed to own significant property. These custodial accounts let you designate someone—it could be you—to manage gifted funds, until the child becomes of legal age, depending on where you live, 18 or 21.

It takes very little to set up the account. You can do it with your local bank branch. However, the funds are taxable to the child and if an investment triggers a “kiddie tax,” putting the child into a high tax bracket and in line with income tax brackets for non-grantor trusts, it could become expensive. Your estate planning attorney will help you determine if this makes sense.

What may concern you more: when the minor turns 18 or 21, they own the account and can do whatever they want with the funds.

529 College Savings Accounts are increasingly popular for passing on wealth to the next generation. The main goal of a 529 is for educational purposes. However, there are many qualified expenses that it may be used for. Any income from transfers into the account is free of federal income tax, as long as distributions are used for qualified expenses. Any gains may be nontaxable under local and state laws, depending on which account you open and where you live. Contributions to 529 accounts qualify for the annual gift tax exclusion but can also be used for other gift and estate tax planning methods, including letting you make front-loaded gifts for up to five years without tapping your lifetime estate tax exemption.

You may also change the beneficiary of the account at any time, so if one child doesn’t use all their funds, they can be used by another child.

From the IRS’ perspective, a child’s IRA is the same as an adult IRA. The traditional IRA allows an immediate deduction for income taxes when contributions are made. Neither income nor principal are taxed until funds are withdrawn. By contrast, a Roth IRA has no up-front tax deduction. However, any earned income is tax free, as are withdrawals. There are other considerations and limits.  However, generally speaking the Roth IRA is the preferred approach for children and adults when the income earner expects to be in a higher tax bracket when they retire. It’s safe to say that most younger children with earned income will earn more income in their adult years.

The most versatile way to make gifts to minors is through a trust. This is perhaps the best way to leave money to children. There’s no one-size-fits-all trust, and tax rules can be complex. Therefore, trusts should only be created with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. A trust is a private agreement naming a trustee who will manage the assets in the trust for a beneficiary. The terms can be whatever the grantor (the person creating the trust) wants. Trusts can be designed to be fully asset-protected for a beneficiary’s lifetime, as long as they align with state law. The trust should have a provision for what will occur if the beneficiary or the primary trustee dies before the end of the trust. If you would like to learn more about how to leave money, or an inheritance, to your children, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Kiplinger (May 15, 2022) “4 Tax-Smart Ways to Share the Wealth with Kids”

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The Estate of The Union Season 2 premiere - Millennials’ Mysteries Uncovered Part 2

 

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Bypass Trust gives Flexibility in managing Taxes

Bypass Trust gives Flexibility in managing Taxes

A bypass trust gives more flexibility in managing taxes. A bypass trust removes a designated portion of an IRA or 401(k) proceeds from the surviving spouse’s taxable estate, while also achieving several tax benefits, according to a recent article titled “New Purposes for ‘Bypass’ Trusts in Estate Planning” from Financial Advisor.

Portability became law in 2013, when Congress permanently passed the portability election for assets passing outright to the surviving spouse when the first spouse dies. This allows the survivor to benefit from the unused federal estate tax exemption of the deceased spouse, thereby claiming two estate tax exemptions. Why would a couple need a bypass trust in their estate plan?

  • The portability election does not remove appreciation in the value of the ported assets from the surviving spouse’s taxable estate. A bypass trust removes all appreciation.
  • The portability election does not apply if the surviving spouse remarries, and the new spouse predeceases the surviving spouse. Remarriage does not impact a bypass trust.
  • The portability election does not apply to federal generation skipping transfer taxes. The amount could be subject to a federal transfer tax in the heir’s estates, including any appreciation in value.
  • If the decedent had debts or liability issues, ported assets do not have the protection against claims and lawsuits offered by a bypass trust.
  • The first spouse to die loses the ability to determine where the ported assets go after the death of the surviving spouse. This is particularly important when there are children from multiple marriages and parents want to ensure their children receive an inheritance.

This strategy should be reviewed in light of the SECURE Act 10-year maximum payout rule, since the outright payment of IRA and 401(k) plan proceeds to a surviving spouse is entitled to spousal rollover treatment and generally a greater income tax deferral.

Bypass trusts are also subject to the highest federal income tax rate at levels of gross income of as low as $13,550, and they do not qualify for income tax basis step-up at the death of the surviving spouse.

However, the use of IRC Section 678 in creating the bypass trust can eliminate the high trust income tax rates and the minimum exemption, also under Section 678, so the trust is not taxed the way a surviving spouse would be. There is also the potential to include a conditional general testamentary power of appointment in the trust, which can sometimes result in income tax basis step-up for all or a portion of the appreciated assets in the trust upon the death of the surviving spouse.

A bypass trust gives more flexibility in managing taxes. Every estate planning situation is unique, and these decisions should only be made after consideration of the size of the IRA or 401(k) plan, the tax situation of the surviving spouse and the tax situation of the heirs. An experienced estate planning attorney is needed to review each situation to determine whether or not a bypass trust is the best option for the couple and the family. If you would like to learn more about bypass trusts, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Financial Advisor (Feb. 1, 2022) “New Purposes for ‘Bypass’ Trusts in Estate Planning”

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The Estate of The Union Episode 14: Needle in a Haystack - Finding the right Caregiver is out now!

 

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Plan carefully before withdrawing retirement funds

Plan Carefully before withdrawing Retirement Funds

As much as 70% of your retirement funds could evaporate after income tax, estate and state taxes, says a recent article titled “9 smart ways to withdraw retirement funds,” from Bankrate.com. While this number may sound extreme, a closer look shows how easily it could happen, even to families who are well under today’s high federal estate tax exemptions. It is wise to plan carefully before withdrawing retirement funds. Here’s how to avoid this minefield.

Watch the rules on RMDs—Required Minimum Distributions. Once you turn 72, you’re required to start taking a minimum amount from tax-deferred retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. The penalty for failing to do so is severe: a 50% excise tax. If you get the math wrong and don’t take out enough money, the penalty is just as bad. Let’s say your RMD is $20,000 but somehow you only take $5,000. The IRS will levy a $7,500 tax bill: half the $15,000 you were supposed to pay. Ouch!

When you calculate your RMD, remember it changes from year to year. The RMD is based on your age, life-expectancy and account balance, which is the fair market value of the assets in your accounts on December 31 the year before you take a distribution.

Take withdrawals from accounts in the right order. Which retirement funds should you withdraw from first? A Roth IRA will be tax free but use taxable accounts first and leave the Roths for later. Here’s why.

If a 72-year-old person takes $18,000 from a traditional IRA in the 24% tax bracket, their tax bill will be $4,320. The same withdrawal from a Roth IRA won’t create any tax liability. However, if they leave the Roth alone and earn 7% annually on the $18,000 for another ten years, it could grow to $35,409, which will also be tax free when withdrawn. It’s worth the wait.

Do you know the way to take distributions? Most Americans have had several jobs and have retirement accounts in different institutions. It may be time to consolidate assets into one IRA. This can make it much easier to calculate future withdrawals, tax liabilities and asset allocation. Plan carefully before withdrawing, you may need help from your estate planning attorney. You can’t take withdrawals from an IRA to meet RMD requirements for 403(b)s, 401(k)s or other plans. 401(k) plans may not be pooled to calculate a single RMD. Handle any consolidations with great care to avoid incurring tax penalties.

RMDs are different in some situations. If one spouse is significantly younger than the other, RMDs might be lowered. RMDs are calculated using factors like life expectancy (as determined by IRS tables). If a spouse is the sole beneficiary of an IRA, and they are at least ten years younger than you, the RMD calculation is done using a joint-life expectancy table. The amount of the RMD will be reduced according to the table.

Charitable contributions count. People aged 70½ or older are permitted to make tax free donations, known as qualified charitable distributions, of up to $100,000 to a charity as part of their RMD. This distribution does not count as income, reducing income tax to the donor. If you file a joint return, a spouse may also make a contribution up to $100,000. You can’t itemize these as a charitable deduction, but it’s a good way to minimize taxes.

Withdrawals don’t have to be cash. RMDs can be stocks or bonds, which are assigned a fair-market value on the date they are moved from the IRA to a taxable account. This may be easier and less expensive than triggering fees by selling securities in an IRA and then buying them back in a brokerage account.

Can you delay RMDs if you’re still working? If you’re still working at age 72 and continuing to fund a 401(k) or 403(b), you can delay taking RMDs, as long as you don’t own more than 5% of a company and your retirement plan permits this. Check with the 401(k) custodian or human resources to be sure this is allowable to avoid expensive penalties.

Smart money management is just as important in taking money from your retirement accounts as it is in building those accounts. Plan carefully before withdrawing retirement funds. Make informed decisions to maximize your savings and minimize taxes.

If you would like to read more about retirement accounts and estate planning, please check out our previous posts. 

Reference: Bankrate.com (Aug. 31, 2021) “9 smart ways to withdraw retirement funds”

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Roth IRAs are an ideal planning tool

Potential Changes to the Estate Tax

Potential changes to the estate tax that are now being considered by President Biden may expand the number of Americans who will need to pay the federal estate tax in one of two ways: raising rates and lowering qualifying thresholds on estates and increasing the liability for inheriting and selling assets. It is likely that these changes will raise revenues from the truly wealthy, while also imposing estate taxes on Americans with more modest assets, according to a recent article “It May Be Time to Start Worrying About the Estate Tax” from The New York Times.

Inheritance taxes are paid by the estate of a person who died. Some states have estate taxes of their own, with lower asset thresholds. As of this writing, a married couple would need to have assets of more than $23.4 million before they had to plan for federal estate taxes. This historically high exemption may be ending sooner than originally anticipated.

One of the changes being considered is a common tax shelter. Known as the “step-up in basis at death,” this values the assets in an estate at the date of death and disregards any capital gains in a deceased person’s portfolio. Eliminating the step-up in basis would require inheritors to pay capital gains whenever they sold assets, including everything from the family home to stock portfolios.

If you’re lucky enough to inherit wealth, this little item has been an accounting gift for many years. A person who inherits stock doesn’t have to think twice about what their parents or grandparents paid decades ago. All of the capital gains in those shares or any other inherited investment are effectively erased, when the owner dies. There are no capital gains to calculate or taxes to pay.

However, those capital gains taxes are lost revenue to the federal government. Eliminating the step-up rules could potentially generate billions in taxes from the very wealthy but is likely to create financial pain for people who have lower levels of wealth. A family that inherited a home, for instance, would have a much bigger tax burden, even if the home was not a multi-million-dollar property but simply one that gained in value over time.

Reducing the estate tax exemption could lead to wealthy people having to revise their estate plans sooner rather than later. Twenty years ago, the exemption was $675,000 per person and the tax rate was 55%. Over the next two decades, the exemption grew and the rates fell. The exemption is now $11.7 million per person and the tax rate above that amount is 40%.

Lowering the exemption, possibly back to the 2009 level, would dramatically increase tax revenue.

What is likely to occur and when, remains unknown, but what is certain is that potential changes to the estate tax will require your attention. Stay up to date on proposed changes and be prepared to update your estate plan accordingly. If you are interested in learning more about the estate tax, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: The New York Times (March 12, 2021) “It May Be Time to Start Worrying About the Estate Tax”

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Implementing Succession Plans Before Year Ends

Anyone with a taxable estate that includes an operating business should be looking into the efficacy of making gifts in 2020 to take advantage of a unique set of circumstances, advises the article “Why Now is the Right Time to Execute Succession Plans” from Worth. This could include implementing succession plans before the year ends.

The federal exemption from transfer taxes is at a historically high level. Individuals may transfer up to $11.58 million of assets during their lifetime without incurring federal gift, estate or generation skipping transfer tax (GST). The current maximum federal gift and estate tax rate and the current maximum federal GST tax rate is now 40 percent. As the law stands now, this amount is not scheduled to be reduced until the end of 2025, but whether that will remain is anyone’s guess.

The IRS has stated that it will not attempt a claw back of taxes if the exemption amount decreases soon, so taxpayers who put off taking action before December 31, 2020 will miss out.

Lower Value Another Incentive to Develop a Succession Plan

It is important not forget the impact of the global pandemic. Valuations in some parts of public markets continue to be high, but many private companies have lost a lot of value. The lower appraised values can be beneficial for succession planning. If a business owner is willing to transfer all or a portion of the private company to successive generations now, that lowered appraisal value means that more wealth can be shifted. There is the possibility of growth in the future, free of gift, estate, or GST tax.

How Do Interest Rates Impact Succession Plans?

Many strategies used to transfer assets between generations are based on interest rates which are near the lowest they have ever been. Every month, the IRS releases the updated Section 7520 and Applicable Federal Rates (AFR). These are the rates used for transfer techniques like GRATs and intra-family loans. In October, the 7520 rate was 40 basis points (“bps”), and the Mid-Term Annual AFR, used for loans with terms of three to nine years was 39 bps.

Succession Plans Take Time to Create

This unique combination of exemptions, low business valuations and low interest rates is likely to lead many business owners to their estate planning attorney’s offices to implement succession plans before the calendar years ends. The smart move is to contact your estate planning attorney, CPA, and financial advisor as soon as possible to discuss options, and get succession plans going. There will likely be a more-than-usual last minute rush to complete many financial and legal tasks this December, and getting started as early as possible will make it more likely that your succession plan can be completed before December 31, 2020.

If you would like to learn more about gifting, and other means of reducing estate taxes, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Worth (Nov. 2, 2020) “Why Now is the Right Time to Execute Succession Plans”

 

 

Information in our blogs is very general in nature and should not be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Please feel free to contact Texas Trust Law to schedule a complimentary consultation.
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