Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
estate tax
Old 09-16-2008, 09:14 AM   #1
Recycles dryer sheets
bots2019's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 128
estate tax

Does anyone have experience or an understanding of the methods for tax efficiently transitioning assets to family members? I am already aware of the annual gifting exemptions (currently 12k) and lifetime gift exemption (currently $1M, but reduces estate exemption at death). Specifically, are there trusts or other methods that can be employed?

Also, I’m curious if anyone knows of any restrictions on how the annual gift exemption can be used. My understanding is that any person can give any other person a gift up to the exemption amount without any taxes being incurred. Are there any regulations against ‘pass-thru’ gifting? For example, if person A wants to pass as much money to person B as possible, couldn’t person A pass 12k to person B, and 12k to person C who then would pass it to person B? Obviously, person C would be under no obligation to pass the money to person B, so it seems you’d have to trust them, but it seems that this type of approach must be legal?
__________________

__________________
bots2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 09-16-2008, 10:19 AM   #2
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,278
I suppose that if you gave $12K each to ten different people, and 9 of those people turned around and gifted $12K each to the first person, it would be legal (but read on....).

However, if required, I think that you would have a tough time proving that the 9 people actually received a 'gift'. As I understand it, a gift with strings attached does not qualify as a gift. So what encouraged all these people to gift this to the first person? It would look, and probably would be (if ever audited) considered tax evasion. But I am not a lawyer.

This is one of the things I *hate* about laws structured like this - the complexity gets it down to 'intent', and we cannot read people's minds. Our tax laws should not be structured to require mind reading, IMO.

Also, if person "B" in your example needs the money for medical or education reasons, I believe that money used directly for those purposes does not fall under the gift limitations, but of course you will need to do some research on this to understand exactly what and what does not qualify.

-ERD50
__________________

__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 10:31 AM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
freebird5825's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: East Nowhere, 43N Latitude, NY
Posts: 9,017
Easiest answer...consult an estate attorney who specializes in trusts in YOUR state.

I recently set up a living trust and all associated documents for myself (no heirs, no spouse). it was grueling work, but it is by far the smartest money I ever spent except for financial planning with a CFP back in 2002.

My house and assets are all transferred in, beneficiaries named, future family trust provisions for my life partner, pour-over will in place for assets acquired after trust executed, etc etc.

My poor attorney earned his money. I read every line of the trust and will and HCP and yadda yadda yadda and had lots of modifications. Beware the boilerplate!

good luck!
FB
__________________
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
freebird5825 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 10:40 AM   #4
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
MasterBlaster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,359
As I understand it, The lifetime gift maximum has been used so any other gifts (ie. the $12k gifts) would incur gift taxes. However if the bypass trust that was set up did not provide for those gifts then they would not be allowed. One cannot (easily) alter a trust after it has been set up and executed by the decedant.

In my opinion the family is going to have to pay estate taxes on the remaining assets. You are a little late in the game to be thinking of estate tax avoidance.

Your best bet here is to speak with an estate attorney. Perhaps some sort of charitable remainder trust or something else could be constructed. Don't exepect to receive everything though.
__________________
MasterBlaster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 10:47 AM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,278
Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
As I understand it, The lifetime gift maximum has been used so any other gifts (ie. the $12k gifts) would incur gift taxes.
The annual gifting (within the limit for that year) does not incur taxes. It is excluded and does not factor into the lifetime maximums. It is a total 'freebie'. Check the IRS website on that, it is actually quite clear on that point.

-ERD50

edit/add - here is an example, only amounts above the $12K factor into anything at all (at least that is how I interpret this, and it seems pretty clear):

http://www.irs.gov/publications/p950/ar02.html#d0e308

Quote:
Applying the Unified Credit to Gift Tax

After you determine which of your gifts are taxable, you figure the amount of gift tax on the total taxable gifts and apply your unified credit for the year.
Example. In 2007, you give your niece, Mary, a cash gift of $8,000. It is your only gift to her this year. You pay the $15,000 college tuition of your friend, David. You give your 25-year-old daughter, Lisa, $25,000. You also give your 27-year-old son, Ken, $25,000. Before 2007, you had never given a taxable gift. You apply the exceptions to the gift tax and the unified credit as follows:
  1. Apply the educational exclusion. Payment of tuition expenses is not subject to the gift tax. Therefore, the gift to David is not a taxable gift.
  2. Apply the annual exclusion. The first $12,000 you give someone during 2007 is not a taxable gift. Therefore, your $8,000 gift to Mary, the first $12,000 of your gift to Lisa, and the first $12,000 of your gift to Ken are not taxable gifts.
  3. Apply the unified credit. The gift tax on $26,000 ($13,000 remaining from your gift to Lisa plus $13,000 remaining from your gift to Ken) is $5,120. See the Instructions for Form 709 for the Table for Computing Gift Tax for further information. You subtract the $5,120 from your unified credit of $345,800 for 2007. The unified credit that you can use against the gift tax in a later year is $340,680.

You do not have to pay any gift tax for 2007. However, you do have to file Form 709.
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 11:02 AM   #6
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
MasterBlaster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,359
ERD50:

I could be wrong here but as I understand it the gifts come out of the $1MM estate exclusion. Thats why they call it the (lifetime gift exemption). The unified gift tax credit just limits how much you can gift during your lifetime without paying gift taxes.

Please enlighten me if I have this wrong.
__________________
MasterBlaster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 11:21 AM   #7
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
MasterBlaster, the 12,000 annual exclusion per person does not come out of the estate exclusion. ERD is right, it is never counted and does not have to be reported on form 709.

Publication 950 (8/2007), Introduction to Estate and Gift Taxes
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 11:33 AM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
lazygood4nothinbum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,895
Quote:
Originally Posted by bots2019 View Post
Are there any regulations against ‘pass-thru’ gifting? For example, if person A wants to pass as much money to person B as possible, couldn’t person A pass 12k to person B, and 12k to person C who then would pass it to person B? Obviously, person C would be under no obligation to pass the money to person B, so it seems you’d have to trust them, but it seems that this type of approach must be legal?
yes, the regulation is called tax evasion.

beyond gifting the current $12k/year, you can also make limitless payments tax free directly to the service provider for the benefit of another person's medical or education needs.

but of course, the very best way to avoid the death tax is to not die.

edit: here's some fun for martha but i think this is a case about cross-gifting as tax evasion...

http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/01/06/002171P.pdf
Quote:
the tax court found that the transactions at issue involved cross-gifts, denied claimed annual exclusions, and upheld the tax
Quote:
deficiencies and a portion of the penalties...The IRS reasoned that the gifts to each of the donors' own children were valid gifts, but that the gifts to each niece and nephew were constructive gifts to the donors' own children.


this tax evasion idea of cross gifting might also be known as reciprocal arrangements.
__________________
"off with their heads"~~dr. joseph-ignace guillotin

"life should begin with age and its privileges and accumulations, and end with youth and its capacity to splendidly enjoy such advantages."~~mark twain - letter to edward kimmitt 1901
lazygood4nothinbum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 12:14 PM   #9
Recycles dryer sheets
bots2019's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
You are a little late in the game to be thinking of estate tax avoidance

Agreed. But you try taking estate matters with a late-80s, depression era WWII vet!

Btw - family is working with an trusts & estates lawyer. As an extended family member I haven't been involved in those discussions, but have heard some stuff second hand. And his direction is consistent with Martha/ERD on the annual gifting. Currently, all heirs are getting the annual exemption amount. This has been helpful in padding the ER stash.
__________________
bots2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 12:17 PM   #10
Recycles dryer sheets
bots2019's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 128
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
this tax evasion idea of cross gifting might also be known as reciprocal arrangements.

Thanks for the citation lazy. Seems pretty clear they're looking for who benefits from the $$ in the end...
__________________
bots2019 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 01:51 PM   #11
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,617
Quote:
Originally Posted by bots2019 View Post
Agreed. But you try taking estate matters with a late-80s, depression era WWII vet!
Btw - family is working with an trusts & estates lawyer. As an extended family member I haven't been involved in those discussions, but have heard some stuff second hand. And his direction is consistent with Martha/ERD on the annual gifting. Currently, all heirs are getting the annual exemption amount. This has been helpful in padding the ER stash.
It sounds like you've already seen a great job of avoiding as much estate tax as possible. Much of the reason behind trusts also involves avoiding probate expenses, which in some states could whack another 3-4% of assets.

Another very good reason to work with a local lawyer is the state estate tax laws. Everybody is distracted by the feds while the states swoop in and clean up.

Keep in mind that IRAs (if used by your GM/GF) and most life insurance policies are handled outside the estate and generally not subject to estate tax. Some estate plans use life insurance as a way of generating the cash to pay the estate tax.

I used to think that a little friendly "directed gifting" among family members was just fine because, hey, you gotta know your own family. Then I watched it turn sour in a family very close to ours. Now my advice is that no matter how much or how well you think you know your family members, if you start swapping gifts with strings attached then you're gonna get a real education.
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 02:08 PM   #12
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 2,928
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post

Keep in mind that IRAs (if used by your GM/GF) and most life insurance policies are handled outside the estate and generally not subject to estate tax. Some estate plans use life insurance as a way of generating the cash to pay the estate tax.
Nords,

Perhaps you meant this and just used the wrong word.......
My impression is that IRAs and life insurance are not subject to probate fees
(unless they go to estate) but they are subject to estate tax (except if they go to spouse).
__________________
kaneohe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 02:08 PM   #13
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
Quote:
Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum View Post
yes, the regulation is called tax evasion.

beyond gifting the current $12k/year, you can also make limitless payments tax free directly to the service provider for the benefit of another person's medical or education needs.

but of course, the very best way to avoid the death tax is to not die.

edit: here's some fun for martha but i think this is a case about cross-gifting as tax evasion...

http://www.ca8.uscourts.gov/opndir/01/06/002171P.pdf
[/font]

this tax evasion idea of cross gifting might also be known as reciprocal arrangements.
[/font]
Thanks for the link. Because tax law can get so complex, it can be hard to know what is permissible and what is not. The only way to know is to ask. (And then you still might not know.)
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:01 PM   #14
Moderator Emeritus
Nords's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Oahu
Posts: 26,617
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Nords,
Perhaps you meant this and just used the wrong word.......
My impression is that IRAs and life insurance are not subject to probate fees
(unless they go to estate) but they are subject to estate tax (except if they go to spouse).
Nope, my impression is that life insurance is popular as an estate-planning tool (among other reasons) because it's generally not subject to estate tax.

And my impression is also that an IRA, properly bequeathed and retitled, is not subject to estate tax and can be stretched out over the beneficiary's lifetime. That's possibly subject to income tax but not to estate tax.

I agree that they do pass outside of probate and are not subject to probate fees.

As has been amply demonstrated here, I've been wrong before. I don't carry life insurance for estate-planning purposes (or any other reasons) and we're converting to Roth IRAs-- so I haven't been keeping up with the estate-tax issues.

Anyone have a reference?
__________________
*
*

The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
I don't spend much time here anymore, so please send me a PM. Thanks.
Nords is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:08 PM   #15
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Nope, my impression is that life insurance is popular as an estate-planning tool (among other reasons) because it's generally not subject to estate tax.

And my impression is also that an IRA, properly bequeathed and retitled, is not subject to estate tax and can be stretched out over the beneficiary's lifetime. That's possibly subject to income tax but not to estate tax.

I agree that they do pass outside of probate and are not subject to probate fees.

As has been amply demonstrated here, I've been wrong before. I don't carry life insurance for estate-planning purposes (or any other reasons) and we're converting to Roth IRAs-- so I haven't been keeping up with the estate-tax issues.

Anyone have a reference?
With some gotcha's, life insurance owned not by you but by a life insurance trust or owned by your children can be used to minimize estate taxes. But if you own the policy, an estate tax will have to be paid when you die. Also, transferring life insurance you own to another may have a gift tax consequence.

Here is a couple of articles that talk a little about life insurance trusts: http://trusts-estates.lawyers.com/Ir...nce-Trust.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_insurance_trust


For example, a friend of mine has life insurance on his life. The policy has a cash value of 50,000. He gave the policy to his children. A gift tax return has to be filed and it will count against his estate tax exemption. But, the advantage is that the payout on the policy when he dies is about $250,000 and there will not be an estate tax on that payout.

IRAs are subject to estate taxes.

Exception for the foregoing is if your spouse is the beneficiary. The is no estate tax on assets left to one spouse by the other.

Note my signature line.
__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:12 PM   #16
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
Nope, my impression is that life insurance is popular as an estate-planning tool (among other reasons) because it's generally not subject to estate tax.

.... I don't carry life insurance for estate-planning purposes (or any other reasons) and we're converting to Roth IRAs-- so I haven't been keeping up with the estate-tax issues.

Anyone have a reference?
Well, here is my understanding of how life insurance is used in estate planning, and IMO, it is a bit of a circle game. But it might make sense to make cash available, but there are probably better ways:

1) Money is gifted to one or several individuals, usually something like the $12K/year/person so it is not subject to any gift tax issues.

2) The individuals use the money to pay premiums on a life insurance policy on the life of the person who owns the big estate.

3) The policy must be held outside the estate - the individuals own it. This way it isn't an estate issue at all.

So, if the estate has most of it's money tied up in illiquid assets (a business for example), the ins policy can provide the cash to pay estate taxes on that business. I imagine there are more efficient ways to do this, but an insurance salesman is unlikely to offer any ideas.

Outside of that, I fail to see how it is a benefit to anyone. Unless the people think life insurance is a good investment, it would seem better to take the annual gifting and invest it.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:13 PM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
harley's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Following the nice weather
Posts: 6,428
I don't have a reference, but I know think Nords is right. Life insurance is not considered part of the estate, and is an excellent way to pass on some money without being taxed, or as Nords said, to pay the estate taxes. However, insurance companies are not in the business of giving away money, so they make it difficult and VERY expensive to get a high dollar policy at an advanced age.

The traditional IRAs work well too, and Roths even more so. However, they haven't been around all that long. And most high value individuals didn't qualify for investing in them, so they aren't much good for the sitation you are talking about.

However, for yourself, if you are planning to leave a large estate, start the accounts early, get the life (Term) insurance going, and you'll be in better shape to keep a few extra shekels out of Uncle Sam's hands.
__________________
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Will Rogers, or maybe Sam Clemens
DW and I - FIREd at 50 (7/06), living off assets
harley is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:22 PM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
harley's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Following the nice weather
Posts: 6,428
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
Life insurance owned not by you but by a life insurance trust or owned by your children can be used to minimize estate taxes. But if you own the policy, an estate tax will have to be paid when you die. Also, transferring life insurance you own to another may have a gift tax consequence.

For example, a friend of mine has life insurance on his life. The policy has a cash value of 50,000. He gave the policy to his children. A gift tax return has to be filed and it will count against his estate tax exemption. But, the advantage is that the payout on the policy when he dies is about $250,000 and there will not be an estate tax on that payout.

IRAs are subject to estate taxes.

Exception for the foregoing is if your spouse is the beneficiary. The is no estate tax on assets left to one spouse by the other.
Martha and ERD50, thanks for making the point about the policy ownership. I forgot about that.

As far as the IRA is concerned, I thought it passed to the heir outside the estate tax, then needed to be withdrawn over the expected life span of the recipient with taxes being paid on the withdrawals. If it is taxed as part of the estate, do you then get to draw it down tax free? If so, then is the only advantage to having the Roth that it doesn't have the withdrawal requirement for the beneficiary? I've been thinking of using it for possible estate planning, but it sounds like I've been misunderstandding how it would work. Thanks.
__________________
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." - Will Rogers, or maybe Sam Clemens
DW and I - FIREd at 50 (7/06), living off assets
harley is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:23 PM   #19
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,278
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha View Post
Life insurance owned not by you but by a life insurance trust or owned by your children can be used to minimize estate taxes.
Actually, I kind of disagree with that statement - though I'll admit, it may just be semantics.

It is the gifting of money out of the estate below the annual per-person limit that minimizes estate taxes.

Whether the individuals who receive the gifts put it into an insurance policy, the stock market, or spend it on crack, is an independent decision. The estate taxes will be the same in any case, as long as the gifting was done.

Or do I have something wrong?

Insurance salespeople like to blend the two, but as I see it, gifting is gifting, and buying life insurance is buying life insurance. If one or the other don't make sense on their own, it won't make sense to combine them. I think a lot of salespeople rely on the premise that a lot of people don't understand the concept of independent variables.

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2008, 05:27 PM   #20
Moderator Emeritus
Martha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: minnesota
Posts: 13,212
Quote:
Originally Posted by harley View Post
Martha and ERD50, thanks for making the point about the policy ownership. I forgot about that.

As far as the IRA is concerned, I thought it passed to the heir outside the estate tax, then needed to be withdrawn over the expected life span of the recipient with taxes being paid on the withdrawals. If it is taxed as part of the estate, do you then get to draw it down tax free? If so, then is the only advantage to having the Roth that it doesn't have the withdrawal requirement for the beneficiary? I've been thinking of using it for possible estate planning, but it sounds like I've been misunderstandding how it would work. Thanks.
I think that you are mixing up estate tax and income tax issues. There is an estate tax on the IRA's value at death. However, for traditional IRAs income taxes can be minimized by various withdrawal options.
__________________

__________________
.


No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

Martha is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Isconsin estate tax rate? EddieG FIRE and Money 1 07-18-2007 11:00 AM
Pinging Martha - Minn Estate Tax Rates...... Cut-Throat FIRE and Money 2 08-16-2006 08:58 PM
Texas Real Estate Tax Rustic23 FIRE and Money 29 02-28-2006 07:27 PM
real estate purchase and tax implications question vicky FIRE and Money 10 02-15-2005 07:50 AM
estate tax question m trunk Other topics 3 09-13-2004 07:16 AM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:12 AM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.