Category: GST tax

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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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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Protect the Family Business for the Next Generation

Protect the Family Business for the Next Generation

The reality and finality of death is uncomfortable to think about. However, people need to plan for death, unless they want to leave their families a mess instead of a blessing. In a family-owned business, this is especially vital, according to a recent article, “All in the Family—Transition Strategies for Family Businesses” from Bloomberg Law. There are strategies you can use to protect the family business for the next generation.

The family business is often the family’s largest financial asset. The business owner typically doesn’t have much liquidity outside of the business itself. Federal estate taxes upon death need special consideration. Every person has an estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption of $12.06 million, although these historically high levels may revert to prior levels in 2026. The amount exceeding the exemption may be taxed at 40%, making planning critical.

Assuming an estate tax liability is created upon the death of the business owner, how will the family pay the tax? If the spouse survives the business owner, they can use the unlimited marital deduction to defer federal estate tax liabilities, until the survivor dies. If no advance planning has been done prior to the death of the first spouse to die, it would be wise to address it while the surviving spouse is still living.

Certain provisions in the tax code may mitigate or prevent the need to sell the business to raise funds to pay the estate tax. One law allows the executor to pay part or all of the estate tax due over 15 years (Section 6166), provided certain conditions are met. This may be appropriate. However, it is a weighty burden for an extended period of time. Planning in advance would be better.

Business owners with a charitable inclination could use charitable trusts or entities as part of a tax-efficient business transition plan. This includes the Charitable Remainder Trust, or CRT. If the business owner transfers equity interest in the business to a CRT before a liquidity event, no capital gains would be generated on the sale of the business, since the CRT is generally exempt from federal income tax. Income from the sale would be deferred and recognized, since the CRT made distributions to the business owner according to the terms of the trust.

At the end of the term, the CRT’s remaining assets would pass to the selected charitable remainderman, which might be a family-established and managed private foundation.

Family businesses usually appreciate over time, so owners need to plan to shift equity out of the taxable estate. One option is to use a combination of gifting and selling business interests to an intentionally defective grantor trust. Any appreciation after the date of transfer may be excluded from the taxable estate upon death for purposes of determining federal estate tax liabilities.

For some business owners, establishing their business as a family limited partnership or limited liability company makes the most sense. Over time, they may sell or gift part of the interest to the next generation, subject to the discounts available for a transfer. An appraiser will need to be hired to issue a valuation report on the transferred interests in order to claim any possible discounts after recapitalizing the ownership interest.

The ultimate disposition of the family business is one of the biggest decisions a business owner must make, and there’s only one chance to get it right. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney and don’t procrastinate in protecting the family business for the next generation. Succession planning takes time, so the sooner the process begins, the better. If you would like to learn more about succession planning, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Bloomberg Law (Nov. 9, 2022) “All in the Family—Transition Strategies for Family Businesses”

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What Is Upstream Planning?

What Is Upstream Planning?

What is upstream planning? Estate planning with an eye to a future inheritance, known as “upstream planning,” can be especially important where families pass significant wealth from generation to generation. Knowing these details in advance can have a big impact on deciding on how to manage the heir’s own assets, as explained in the article “Expecting an Inheritance? Consider Coordinating Your Estate Plan with Your Parents’” from Kiplinger.

What happens when information is kept private? In one example, a patriarch refused to share any details, despite having children who had succeeded on their own and didn’t really need their inheritances. The family was left with an eight figure estate tax bill.

Clear and open discussions make sense. If a person has an estate large enough to need to pay federal estate taxes, inheriting more will add to their heir’s tax burdens. Parents may choose to leave assets to heirs through a trust. Money in a trust belongs to the trust, so in addition to tax benefits, the trust is a good way to protect assets from creditors, litigation, or divorce.

Trusts are also used to take advantage of the GST—generation skipping tax exemption. The executor of the parents’ estates can apply their GST exemption to the trust, which will not be taxed when they are distributed or passed to grandchildren, even if the grandchild is a beneficiary of the trust.

Business considerations also come into play. If a couple built and grew a business now being run by their granddaughter, and the grandsons have had little or no involvement, their wishes should be clarified: do they want their granddaughter to be the sole heir? Or do they want the grandsons to receive cash or other assets or any shares of the business?

Talking about multigenerational wealth early and often provides benefits to all concerned. The more money a family has, the more it makes sense to have those conversations and not only from an estate tax perspective. Those who created the wealth can use upstream planning as a way to start conversations about their success, family values and hopes for how heirs and future generations will benefit.

In some families, these conversations won’t happen because they think it’s too private or don’t want their children and grandchildren to feel they don’t need to work hard to become responsible citizens.

Communicating and coordinating are vital to success. Your estate planning attorney will be able to help you understand what upstream planning is and provide guidance; having seen what happens when upstream planning occurs and when it does not.

If you are interested in learning more about upstream planning, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Kiplinger (Oct. 4, 2022) “Expecting an Inheritance? Consider Coordinating Your Estate Plan with Your Parents’”

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Dynasty Trusts offer more Control over Assets

Dynasty Trusts offer more Control over Assets

Trusts are the Swiss Army Knife of estate planning, perfect tools for specific directions on how your assets should be managed while you are living and after you have passed. A recent article titled “This Trust Can Help You Create a Financial Dynasty from Yahoo! finance explains how qualified perpetual trusts, also known as dynasty trusts, can offer more control over assets than other types of trusts.

What is a Dynasty Trust?

Called a Qualified Perpetual Trust or a Dynasty Trust, this trust is designed to let the grantor pass assets along to beneficiaries in perpetuity. Technically speaking, a dynasty trust could last for a century. They don’t end until several years after the death of the last surviving beneficiary.

Why Would You Want a Trust to Last 100 Years?

Perpetual trusts are often used to keep family wealth out of probate for a long time. During probate, the court reviews the will, approves the executor and reviews an inventory of assets. Probate can be time consuming and costly. the will and all the information it contains becomes part of the public record, meaning that anyone can find out all about your wealth.

A trust is created by an experienced estate planning attorney. Assets are then transferred into the trust and beneficiaries are named. There should be at least one beneficiary and a secondary beneficiary, in case the first beneficiary predeceases the second. A trustee is named to oversee the assets. The language of the trust is where you set the terms for when and how assets are to be distributed to beneficiaries.

Directions for the trust can be as specific as you wish. Terms may be set requiring certain goals, stages of life, or ages for beneficiaries to receive assets. This amount of control is part of the appeal of trusts. You can also set terms for when beneficiaries are not to receive anything from the trust.

Let’s say you have two adult children in their 30s. You could set a condition for them to receive monthly payments from trust earnings and nothing from the principal during their lifetimes. The next generation, your grandchildren, can be directed to receive only earnings as well, further preserving the trust principal and ensuring its future for generations to come.

Dynasty trusts are irrevocable, meaning that once assets are transferred, the transfer is permanent. Be certain that any assets going into the trust won’t be needed in the short or long run.

Be mindful if you chose to leave assets directly to grandchildren, skipping one generation, you risk the Generation Skipping Tax. There is no GST with a dynasty trust.

Assets in a trust are still subject to income tax, if they generate income. If you transfer assets creating little or no income, you can minimize this tax.

Not all states allow qualified perpetual trusts, while other states have used perpetual trusts to create a cottage industry for trusts. Dynasty trusts can offer more control over assets than other types of trusts, but they may not be the best choice. Your estate planning attorney will be able to advise the best perpetual trust for your situation. If you would like to read more about trusts, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: yahoo! finance (July 12, 2022) “This Trust Can Help You Create a Financial Dynasty

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Your Estate Plan should incorporate Asset Protection

Your Estate Plan should incorporate Asset Protection

Your estate plan should incorporate asset protection and tax planning. Most people don’t realize they live with a certain level of risk and it can be addressed in their estate plan, says an article from Forbes titled “You Need An Asset Protection Plan Not Just A Will.”

Being aware of these issues and knowing that they need to be addressed is step one. Here’s an illustration: a married couple in their 50s have two teenage children. They are diligent people and made sure to have an estate plan created early in their marriage. It’s been updated over the years, adding guardians when their children were born and making changes as needed. They have worked hard and also have been fortunate. They own a vacation home they rent most of the year and a small retail business and both of their teenage children drive cars. They don’t see a reason to tie asset protection and risk management into their estate plan. No one they know has ever been sued.

With assets in excess of $4 million and annual income of $350,000, they are a risk target. If one of their children were in an auto accident, they might be liable for any damages, especially if they own the cars the children drive.

The vacation home, if not held in a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or another type of entity, could lead to exposure risks too. If the property is not insured as an income-producing business property and something occurs on the property, the insurance company could easily refuse the claim if the house is insured as a residence.

If their retail business is owned by an LLC or another properly prepared entity, they have personal protection. However, if they have not followed the laws of their state for a business, they might lose the protection of the business structure.

Retirement assets also need to be protected. If they have employees and a retirement plan and are not adhering strictly to all of the requirements, their retirement plan qualification could easily be placed in jeopardy. Their estate planning attorney should be asked to review the pension plan and how it is being administered to ensure that their retirement is not at risk.

There are several reasons why tax oriented trusts would make a lot of sense for this couple. While current gift estate and GST (Generation Skipping Tax) exemptions are historically high right now, they won’t be forever.

This couple would be well-advised to speak with their estate planning attorney about the use of trusts, to serve several distinct functions. Trusts can shelter assets from litigation, decrease or minimize estate taxes when the estate tax changes in 2026 and possibly protect life insurance policies.

Estate planning and risk management are not only for people with mansions and global businesses. Regular people, business owners, and wage earners in all tax brackets, should incorporate asset protection in their estate plan to address their legacy, protect their assets and defend their estate against risks. If you would like to learn more about asset protection, please visit our previous posts.

Reference: Forbes (June 7, 2022) “You Need An Asset Protection Plan Not Just A Will”

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Strategies to reduce Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax

Strategies to reduce Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax

The unified estate and gift tax exemption increased from $5 million to $10 million, with inflation indexing stands at $12.06 million in 2022. A married couple can shelter as much as $24.12 million from the federal estate tax. However, what about assets you gift or leave in your will to grandchildren, asks a recent article titled “Beware the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax” from CPA Practice Advisor. There are strategies to reduce the generation-skipping transfer tax.

Without proper estate planning, the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax (GSTT) may be imposed on families who aren’t prepared for it. There are some strategies to work around the GSTT. However, you’ll need to get this done in advance of making any gifts or before you die.

The GSTT was created to prevent wealthy individuals from getting too far around the estate and gift rules through generation-skipping transfers, as the name implies. A simple explanation of the tax is this: the tax applies to transfers to related individuals who are more than one generation away—that would be grandchildren or great grandchildren—and any unrelated individuals more than 37 ½ years younger. They are known as “skip persons.”

Transferring assets to a trust and naming grandchildren or a much younger person as the ultimate beneficiary doesn’t work to avoid the GSTT. If you took this route, all of the trust beneficiaries, which could also be adult children, would be treated as skip persons. Even the trust itself may be considered a skip person, in certain circumstances.

The rules for the GSTT are the same as apply to federal estate taxes. The top tax rate for the GSTT is 40%, the same rate for federal estate taxes. The GSTT also shares the same exemption rate, indexed for inflation, as the federal estate tax.

However, remember what’s coming. In 2026, the exemption is scheduled to revert to $5 million, plus inflation indexing. If Congress enacts any other legislation before then, it will change sooner.

There’s more. There is a GSTT exemption for lifetime transfers aligned with the annual gift tax exclusion. You may gift up to $16,000 per recipient, including a grandchild or other descendent, every year, without triggering a GSTT bill.

Talk with your estate planning attorney to see if these three strategies are appropriate for you to avoid or reduce the Generation-skipping transfer tax:

  • Make the most of the GSTT exemption. Even though lifetime transfers do reduce the available estate tax shelter, the current $12.06 million exemption provides a lot of flexibility.
  • You can use the annual gift tax exemption to shelter tax gifts up to $16,000 above and beyond the lifetime exemption. Use this before the lifetime exemption.
  • Always look to see how trusts within the usual tax law boundaries can be used to protect assets from taxes.

If you would like to learn more about strategies to reduce estate taxes, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: CPA Practice Advisor (June 3, 2022) “Beware the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax”

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When to File a Gift Tax Return

When to File a Gift Tax Return

The IRS wants to know how much you’re gifting over the course of your lifetime. This is because while gifts may be based on generosity, they are also a strategy for avoiding taxes, including estate taxes, reports The Street in a recent article “How Do Gif Taxes Work?”. It is important to understand when to file a gift tax return and the consequences of not filing.

Knowing whether you need to file a gift tax return is relatively straightforward. The IRS has guidelines about who needs to file a gift tax return and who does not. Your estate planning attorney will also be able to guide you, since gifting is part of your estate and tax planning.

If you give a gift worth more than $16,000, it is likely you need to file a gift tax return. Let’s say you gave your son your old car. The value of used cars today is higher than ever because of limited supply. Therefore, you probably need to file a gift tax return. If the car title is held by you and your spouse, then the car is considered a gift from both of you. The threshold for a gift from a married couple is $32,000. Make sure that you have the right information on how the car is titled.

What if you added a significant amount of cash to an adult child’s down payment on a new home? If you as a member of a married couple gave more than $32,000, then you will need to file a gift tax return. If you are single, anything over $16,000 requires a gift tax return.

529 contributions also fall into the gift tax return category. Gifts to 529 plans are treated like any other kind of gift and follow the same rules: $16,000 for individuals, $32,000 for married couples.

What about college costs? It depends. If you made payments directly to the educational institution, no gift tax return is required. The same goes for paying medical costs directly to a hospital or other healthcare provider. However, any kind of educational expense not paid directly to the provider is treated like any other gift.

Do trusts count as gifts? Good question. This depends upon the type of trust. A conversation with your estate planning attorney is definitely recommended in this situation. If the trust is a “Crummey” trust, which gives the beneficiary a right to immediately withdraw the gift put into the trust, then you may not need to file a gift tax return.

A Crummey trust is not intended to give the beneficiary the ability to make an immediate withdrawal. However, the withdrawal right makes the gift in the trust a “current gift” and it qualifies for the annual exclusion limit. Recategorizing the gift can potentially exempt the person giving the gift from certain tax obligations. Check with your estate planning attorney.

Even when someone does file a gift tax return, the amount of tax being paid is usually zero. This is because the gifts are offset by each person’s lifetime exemption. The IRS wants these returns filed to keep track of how much each individual has gifted over time. Unless you are very wealthy and making gift transfers from a family trust or to family members, it is not likely you will ever end up paying a tax. You are, however, required to keep the IRS informed. If you would like to learn more about gift taxes and ways to limit them, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: The Street (March 31, 2022) “How Do Gift Taxes Work?”

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What are the Advantages of Modern Directed Trust?

What are the Advantages of Modern Directed Trust?

Many families use their estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemptions to fund a flexible modern trust for non-tax reasons, explains an article “Trust Planning in Unprecedented Times” from Wealth Management. Future uncertainty is one of the reasons, which seems keenly appropriate today. What are the advantages of a modern directed trust?

Passing family values as well as wealth to future generations is an important part of estate planning for many families. A directed trust can accomplish both goals, through the participation of family members and advisors in the directed trust’s distribution committee (DC). The DC decides how trust income and principal will be distributed and directs the administrative trustee accordingly.

Any distribution over and above the health, education, maintenance and support of beneficiaries needs to be considered from a tax-sensitive perspective, but the DC has the flexibility to make these decisions.

These modern directed trusts can also be created to allow for charitable purposes. Donations to charity from a non-charitable modern directed trusts lets the family express its social responsibility, while obtaining unlimited income tax deductions to the trust.

There are instances where knowledge of a trust is kept from beneficiaries or other family members, if they lack the financial maturity or don’t understand or comply with family values. Other reasons to keep a trust quiet are asset protection, divorce, ID theft and similar issues. In many modern trust states, the trust can remain quiet, even after the grantor has died or becomes incapacitated.

Modern directed trusts provide protection against divorce. Often the trust’s main protection is the use of a spendthrift provision, which prevents the assignment of a beneficiaries’ interests in an irrevocable trust before the interest is distributed. There are exceptions to the spendthrift clause, and alimony is one of them. In recent cases, courts have disregarded the spendthrift clause when exceptions are involved, especially in cases of divorce.

Litigation can be a problem for trusts. One of the advantages of a modern directed trust is the excellent asset protection it provides when trust discretionary interests are not defined as property or an enforcement right. Many trusts have clauses providing a court to award legal fees and costs to the winning party. The trustee may be reimbursed for attorney’s fees if the plaintiff loses, a significant discouragement for embarking on litigation against a modern trust.

COVID-19 has reframed how often people think about their mortality, which has fueled interest in creating trusts to protect family assets and heirlooms. A “purpose trust” doesn’t have beneficiaries, but is created to care, protect and preserve an asset, either for an extended period of time or even perpetuity. Assets typically placed in a purpose trust include gravesites, antiques, art, jewelry, royalties, digital assets, land, property, buildings and vacation homes.

The uncertain times in which we live call for unprecedented estate planning. Modern directed trusts are a way to preserve wealth across generations with flexibility. Regardless of what changes to federal estate, gift or generation skipping trusts may come in the future, trusts make sense. If you would like to learn more about asset protection, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Wealth Management (Jan. 10, 2022) “Trust Planning in Unprecedented Times”

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What Is a Dynasty Trust?

What is a dynasty trust? Don’t be put off by the term “dynasty.” Just as every person has an estate, even if they don’t live in a million-dollar home, every person who owns assets could potentially have a dynasty trust, even if they don’t rule a continent. If you have assets that you wish to pass to others, you need an estate plan and you may also benefit from a dynasty trust, says this recent article from Kiplinger, “A Smart Option for Transferring Wealth Through Generations: The Dynasty Trust.”

When parents die, assets are typically transferred to their descendants. In most cases, the assets are transferred directly to the heirs, unless a trust has been created. Estate taxes must be paid, usually from the assets in the estate. Inheritances are divided according to the will, after the taxes have been paid, and go directly to the beneficiary, who does what they want with the assets.

If you leave assets outright to heirs, when the beneficiary dies, the assets are subject to estate taxes again. If assets are left to grandchildren, they are likely to incur another type of taxes, called Generation Skipping Transfer Taxes (GSTT). If you want your children to have an inheritance, you’ll need to do estate planning to minimize estate tax liability.

If you own a Family Limited Partnership (FLP) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC), own real estate or have a large equity portfolio, you may have the ability to use gifting and wealth transfer plans to provide for your family in the future. You may be able to do this without losing control of the assets.

The “dynasty trust,” named because it was once used by families like the DuPont’s and Fords, is created to transfer wealth from generation to generation without being subject to various gift, estate and/or GSTT taxes for as long as the assets remain in the trust, depending upon appliable state laws. A dynasty trust can also be used to protect assets from creditors, divorcing spouses and others seeking to make a claim against the assets.

Many people use an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) and transfer the assets free of the trust upon death. Most living trusts are transferred without benefit of being held within trusts.

A dynasty trust is usually created by the parents and can include any kind of asset—life insurance, securities, limited partnership interests, etc.—other than qualified retirement plans. The assets are held within the trust and when the grantor dies, the trust automatically subdivides into as many new trusts as the number of beneficiaries named in the trust. It’s also known as a “bloodline” trust.

Let’s say you have three children. The dynasty trust divides into three new trusts, dividing assets among the three. When those children die, the trust subdivides again for their children (grandchildren) in their own respective trusts and again, assets are divided into equal shares.

A dynasty trust offers broad powers for health, welfare, maintenance and support. The children can use the money as they wish, investing or taking it out. When created properly, the assets and growth are both protected from estate taxes. Speak with an estate planning attorney to make sure you fully understand what a dynasty trust is, and if it is right for you. You’ll need a trustee and a co-trustee and an experienced estate planning attorney to draft and execute this plan.

If you would like to learn more about a dynasty trust, and other types of multi-generational planning vehicles, please visit our previous posts. 

Reference: Kiplinger (Oct. 2, 2021) “A Smart Option for Transferring Wealth Through Generations: The Dynasty Trust”

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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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