2012 — Act Now Continued…
There may be better approaches.
◙ If you and your spouse/partner both set up trusts, the trusts need to be sufficiently different to avoid the IRS arguing what is called the "reciprocal trust doctrine" — that they are so identical that they should be "uncrossed" so that the trusts are taxable in each of your estates. That would entirely negate the planning. Differentiate the trusts using different powers, different distribution standards, set them up in different states, sign them on different dates, use different assets, print them on different color paper (just kidding on that one), etc.
◙ If you own all the assets to be given can you set up a trust and gift $10.24 million and have your spouse treat the gift as if it is ½ his thereby using up his exemption? While spouses can gift split, if your spouse is a beneficiary of the trust which is the recipient of the gift, that is a no-no.
◙ What if you gift $5.12 million to your spouse, and he then gifts it to his trust to avoid the gift splitting issue? Nice try but maybe no cigar. The IRS could attack using the "step transaction doctrine." If the IRS wins they might treat your gift to your spouse, and his gift to the trust, as an indirect gift by you to his trust. Thus, you'd be treated as making two $5.12 million gifts and owe about $1.8 million in gift tax. Ouch!
◙ There has never been a time in history when so many taxpayers may feel so compelled to make so many large transfers in such a short time period. Big brother will be watching so more caution and planning then ever before should be exercised.
◙ You want to fund a FLP or LLC with appreciating assets, make gifts and secure discounts. If the assets are not inside the entity long enough the IRS will argue that the gifts were of the underlying assets — no discount.