So last month we gave you exiting tidbits for each of the front nine. To assure you have talking points for the rest of the course, here's some for the back nine.
Start the back 9 with a cool acronym "BDIT" a Beneficiary Defective Inheritor's Trust. The BDIT is creation of Las Vegas estate planning maven Richard Oshins, Esq. of Oshins & Associates. Your golf buddies have all set up self-settled grantor dynasty trusts and you wanna one up them. The BDIT is the answer. Have mom (anyone other than you or your spouse) set up a dynasty trust to benefit you. If you never make a gift to the trust, many of the estate tax rules that can operate to pull a trust's assets back into your estate arguably won't apply. For example, if your golf buds give assets to their dynasty trusts but retain the right to enjoy those assets (e.g., the income from a rental property, or the right to live in a beach house), those assets will be included in their estates. But with your BDIT, since you don't transfer assets to the BDIT you don't face the sasme risks. But if mom sets up the trust, how can it be a grantor trust to you? Characterization as a grantor trust assures all income is taxed to you and that you can sell assets to the trust without triggering capital gains. The mechanism to accomplish this feat is having your BDIT include an annual demand or Crummey power for you to withdraw gifts mom makes to the trust. If you can vest all of the principal of the trust in yourself, you'll be treated as the owner of the trust for income tax purposes so long as the trust is not a grantor trust as to mom. So if mom gives $13,000 annual gifts to the trust each year and you don't exercise the Crummey power to withdraw those gifts, the trust will be a grantor trust as to you. Because you didn't set up the BDIT, you can be given more control over the trust then your golf buds can over their plain vanilla dynasty trusts with less tax and asset protection risk.
UTMA, Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, accounts use to be standard operating procedure for kids savings. But they ain't fun since at the age of majority Junior can spend the money on a beer instead of tuition. What can you do? One approach is to have the UTMA invest in a family partnership or LLC so that when Junior attains the age of majority he'll have to convince the local beer depot to take FLP interests as payment. Many financial institutions object to encumbering Junior's money more than the UTMA account would. Solution - Give Junior the right to cash in his FLP interest within 30 days of attaining the age of majority! For you Code Section geeks this is similar to the 2503(c) trust right to withdraw at age 21.
Lots of trusts are structured as directed trusts where a person or board of investment advisers direct the trustees how to invest and the trustee is absolved of most or all liability for investment decisions (depending on state law and the trust terms). Many such trusts could benefit from the Doublemint gum approach to trust investment advisers. Many investment advisers are selected to hold family business or real estate assets that an institutional trustee might not be adept at. However, at some time even a trust largely comprised of a closely held business interest may become liquid (e.g. a sale of the business). Does the same investment adviser have the expertise to invest in marketable securities that knew say real estate or widgets? Unlikely. The dual approach can provide a better investment result. Finally, what if funds from one property or business are to be reinvested? Have an independent fiduciary, e.g., the investment adviser, authorized to allocate liquid assets from the marketable to the business/real estate component of the trust.
When a partnership, or an LLC taxed as an partnership, must close its taxable year (e.g., on the termination of a partner/member during the year), the economic results of the partnership must be allocated for that partner to the time period prior to the closing of the FLP/LLC books, and to the period after the closing. There are two methods which can be used to make this allocation: (1) the interim closing of the FLP/LLC books; or (2) the pro-ration method. Treas. Reg. Sec. 1.706-1(c)(2)(ii); See, Richardson v. Comr., 693 F.2d 1189 (5th Cir. 1982). If the executor has discretion to choose the assets to fund a bequest under the will, which is common, these rules and that discretion, will impact the estate's tax results. If a pecuniary bypass trust (i.e., funded with a dollar figure not a portion of the estate) is funded with the interests in an partnership/LLC, the tax year of the partnership/LLC close and the bypass trust would be allocated the pro rata portion of the gain for the portion of the year in which it holds the interests in the partnership/LLC. If the executor uses the discretion granted under the will to distribute the deceased partner's interests in the partnership/LLC under the residuary clause of the will to a residuary trust, instead of to the pecuniary bypass trust (assuming that the will was so constructed), the tax year of the partnership/LLC may not close as a result of the estate funding the residuary trust. As a result, all income from the date of death forward would inure to the residuary trust (since there would be no closing or allocation). If this discretion is combined with an interim closing of the books method, in contrast to the proration method, the executor has flexibility to determine which amount of gain to trap in the estate versus what gain (or other tax consequence) will be reported on the income tax return of one of the distributee testamentary trusts.
If you buttoned up your FLP so tight to justify discounts you may undermined the annual gift exclusion for FLP interests. This is because a gift has to be of a "present interest" to qualify for the $13,000 annual exclusion and if the donee/partner cannot realize any current economic benefit because of all the restrictions, it may not qualify. See, Hackl V. Commr. 118 TC 14 (2002), aff'd, 335 F.3d 664 (7th Cir. 2003). Consider adding a right of first refusal, or provision analogous to a "Crummey" demand power, to the transfer restrictions or distribution clauses of the partnership agreement. If there is no present contemplation of annual gift transfers, this issue may be better not to be addressed in the Operating Agreement as such a provision may detract from the general discounts.
Recession brought lower asset values so many estates are choosing to value assets not at the date of death, but 6 months later on the alternate valuation date (AVD). But this election is not simple and can trigger family disputes if it benefits one heir at the expense of others. Most if not all wills and other documents are silent as to how to address this potentially volcanic dilemma. Example: An estate is comprised of a family business valued as of the date of death at $7M, securities valued at $10M and a house valued at $4M. The business on the date of death constitutes $7M/($7M + $10M + $4M) 33% of the estate, insufficient to qualify for estate tax deferral under Code Section 6166. At the AVD 6 months later the business value has declined to $6M, the securities to $4M and the house increased to $5M. The value of the business is now $6M/($6M + $4M +$5M) 40% of the estate, sufficient to qualify for estate tax deferral under IRC Sec. 6166. Thus, use of the AVD can have the added benefit of enabling the estate to qualify for additional estate tax benefits. The use of the AVD benefited the children receiving the business and securities, but penalized the child receiving the house. How can an executor make the election in such a situation? How can the executor avoid making the election? What's good for the goose may not be good for the gander! The election must apply to all estate assets, no partial application is permitted. Treas. Reg. Sec. 20.2032-1(b)(2). The result is the classic Shakespearean decision: "To ADV, or not to ADV: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the estate administration to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged beneficiaries…".
It remains common for investments to be structured in the form of a limited partnership (FLP): control, income shifting, gift and estate discounts (but that window may be closing), etc. If you're transferring securities to a FLP watch the Code Section 721 investment rules. Many folk forgot about these because capital gains kinda disappeared. But with the run up in the equity markets and other investments these rules could easily ensnare you. If you form an FLP consisting primarily of securities there generally is no income tax consequence, but if the FLP is characterized as an "investment company" and you diversify your previously undiversified securities portfolios by forming that FLP, then all the gain on all assets contributed to the FLP will be triggered for income tax purposes. Ouch! To make this even more painful, losses are not triggered, just gains!
If you have or are divorcing, watch the home sale exclusion rules -- the housing market will eventually recover and you'll get nailed if you don't. Most folks cannot imagine appreciating home values, but if you're negotiating a divorce agreement don't ignore it. If your ex-spouse is granted exclusive use of the residence that use will be credited to you for purposes of meeting the use and ownership requirements for the $250,000 home sale exclusion if mandated by a qualifying agreement (divorce agreement, decree of separate maintenance, and a decree of legal separation). IRC Sec. 71(b)(2). If not, it will not be credited to you if you're not residing in the house. Bottom line: you could loose a big tax bennie.The timing of each spouse's use and ownership should be considered to assure the maximum qualification for the exclusion.
Financial stress is a top factor triggering divorce. This recession has been plenty stressful financially. It has also wreaked havoc with investment portfolios like none other since the depression. If you are in the process of or were recently divorced, review and revise your investment strategy. Pre-divorce portfolios are structured on a family basis. Post divorce each spouse may end up with non-coordinated pieces of the former family portfolio. Diversification which may have been adequate before, may be undermined by a divorce settlement that focused on tax basis, accounts within the control of each spouse, and other non-investment factors. The financial realities of divorce often necessitate a portfolio geared more toward generating cash to cover post-divorce living expenses, then growth for the future. An issue to address in the reallocation process is that the portfolio likely has a carry over cost basis under Code Sec. 1041 from your ex-spouse, or low basis equities purchased and held by you.
Your risk tolerance may change to reflect post-divorce economic reality, which is often much harsher than before. Intact families can often accept more risk in their portfolio when comfortable with their employment situation, and can rely on that cash flow for expenses. Post-divorce this certainty is often undermined by lower earnings, higher support or alimony payments, and the increased costs of maintaining separate homes and lives. Too often clients ignore the changed risk, or take the opposite approach and become so fearful of this new risk profile that they assume anything other than a money market account or CD is too risky. Clients seeking low risk portfolios often build a portfolio based on bonds, etc. They assume price risk is eliminated when they hold the securities to maturity. Reality is that the price risk remains because interest rates fluctuate. They are unknowingly assuming a great deal of risk, but risks of a different type, namely inflation risk. Even a modest rate of inflation can devastate a fixed income portfolio over time.
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