Educational Alerts are written on topics that effect various aspects of estate planning and the laws that govern it. They are usually published and posted to this site at the end of each month. Occasionally newsworthy events will initiate the release of additional alerts at the time the news breaks. The purpose of an Estate Planning Update is to bring important information to the financial advisors in the community. Our hope is that this information better equips you to assist your clients.
2008: The Calm Before the Storm
The article examines the upcoming uncertainties and scheduled changes in the laws concerning estate and gift taxation.
The Estate That Would Not Die
The recent litigation surrounding the publicity rights of the remainder beneficiary of the estate of Marilyn Monroe illustrates some of the problems with probate administrations and how a trust can help avoid some of these entanglements.
Court Approved Reformation Fails to Gain Approval from the Internal Revenue Service
The article looks at a recent reversal by the IRS on the issue of allowing non-spousal rollovers of retirement plans into IRAs. Then the article examines one private letter ruling in which the IRS did not allow the mistaken omission of a contingent beneficiary to be corrected. The primary beneficiary had predeceased. The result was that the assets in the retirement plan had to be withdrawn more quickly, thus depriving the beneficiary of the full extent of the tax deferral which would have been allowed had the contingent beneficiary been named.
Lame Duck Congress Passes Last Minute Tax Act
The Alert discusses the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. It lists the various provisions and highlights the most important one: the modification of the rules of Unrelated Business Taxable Income for a CRT. If a CRT had UBTI prior to the act, it lost tax exempt status. Beginning January 1, 2007, it does not lose tax exempt status, but faces an excise tax equal to 100% of the UBTI. This is often better and can make contributing business assets to a CRT more attractive.
IRS Finds Pecuniary Gift of IRA to Charity is Taxable
The Alert examines ILM 200644020 which involved an IRA payable to a trust. The trust used the assets to pay pecuniary bequests to charities. The Service held that, under the Kenan rule, there was a sale or exchange, and thus the trust recognized the income on the asset. Further, the trust did not get a charitable deduction. The Alert states that careful planning could have avoided this outcome.
IRS Curtails Use of Private Annuities for Income Tax Purposes
The article examines the IRS' recent issuance of proposed regulations cracking down on Private Annuity Trusts used for income tax avoidance. The article looks at why PATs are still a viable tool in estate planning.
Congress Passes Income Tax Bill - Estate Tax Repeal is Up Next The Internal Revenue Service Again Approves Spousal General Power of Appointment Planning Strategy
This article contains an update on The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, comments from leading Senators on the potential of estate tax repeal in the coming months, and a commentary on the third in the series of PLRs dealing with granting a testamentary general power of appointment over a surviving spouse's assets in order to more fully utilize the deceased spouse's applicable exclusion amount.
Proper Drafting of Trust Protects Trust Assets from Creditors, Including the Internal Revenue Service
This article examines recent IRS guidance concerning the ability of the IRS to attach a beneficiary's interest in a trust. The article provides options for greater creditor protection by not using typical HEMS language.
IRS Issues Favorable Life Insurance Private Letter Ruling
This month's Alert covers a PLR in which the IRS approves a transfer of life insurance policies from one Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust structured as a grantor trust for income tax purposes to another Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust structured as a grantor trust. The Alert explains how this planning strategy avoids recognition of gain, the transfer for value rule and the three year rule. Call our office if you have clients with insurance trusts that might need to be re-thought.
Window of Opportunity for Medicaid Planning
This Alert informs advisors of the window of opportunity that still exists for planning for Medicaid eligibility under the old law, and encourages them to take action while planning under the old Medicaid law still exists. The Alert also briefly reviews once again the changes that are brought about by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Passage of the Deficit Reduction Act Will Not Mean the End of Medicaid Planning
On February, 8, 2006, the President signed into law the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 ("the Act"). There have already been challenges to the Act but it appears it will be valid law. When the Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favor of passing the Act, many people were predicting the end of Medicaid planning.
Fate of Some Forms of Medicaid Planning in Jeopardy as Planners Await Final Vote on Budget Package from Congress
A look at the current status of the Budget Reconciliation that will enact punitive new transfer rules for gifts in connection with Medicaid planning, as well as other substantive changes. Because of some last minute maneuverings of the Senate Democrats, the Bill will need to win another majority vote by the House before it becomes law. The proposed changes will significantly impact Medicaid planning opportunities in many circumstances, so it is imperative that all Medicaid plans be reviewed in light of the contents of the Bill.
Upcoming Estate Tax Reform May Bring Changes
This provides a look at proposed estate tax reform and how it may affect planning.
Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act Offers Short-term Charitable Tax Planning Opportunity - But Be Careful!!
The article examines the charitable planning aspects of the hurricane Katrina legislation. It provides a strategy for charitable gifting of retirement plan assets.
Enrollment Period for Medicare Part D on the Horizon
This article gives a brief explanation of Medicare Part D, the new prescription drug plan. Seniors will begin receiving information about this plan between mid-October and year-end.
Potential Changes to Medicaid Laws May Warrant Taking Action Now
This article addresses many of the proposals being set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services Commission and the National Governor's Association for Medicaid Reform. Many of these proposals will change the manner in which Medicaid planning will be done in the future and how your clients may want to accelerate their planning before any changes are made.
Fifth Circuit Releases Long Awaited Strangi Opinion
This month's alert highlights the findings of the Strangi 4 FLP case. This is the second appeal to the 5th Circuit. The opinion is a partial victory for the IRS, but the key points of the case are the issues regarding implied agreements (and use of FLP assets to pay estate administration expenses, debts of the decedent and estate taxes) and what is business and non-business purposes are sufficient to meet the "bona fide transfer for fair value" exceptio under IRC 2036.
2036 Is Not Just for Family Limited Partnerships
In past alerts we have informed you how the IRS has had successes in using IRC - 2036 to pull back transferred partnership assets into the estate of a decedent, thwarting the taxpayer's plans to obtain a discount. These victories have emboldened the IRS to apply the requirements of IRC - 2036 against other types of intra-family transfers.
Taxpayers Using FLPs Continue to Trip Over Section 2036
The article examines three new FLP cases in which the Service was victorious. It stresses the need for clients to have their FLP agreements and practices reviewed.
Chances for Repeal of the Estate Tax Lessen -- Congress May Settle for Permanent Increase in Exemption Amount
The article examines pending legislation concerning potential repeal of the estate tax. It discusses the more likely outcome of an increase of the applicable exclusion amount. It concludes that the need for estate planning will remain greater than ever for non-tax reasons.
Taxpayers Fight and Win State Estate Tax Battles
In 2001, the federal government passed the Economic Growth and Tax Reform Reconciliation
Act of 2001 ("EGTRRA"). One of the provisions of EGTRRA was the
gradual reduction and then elimination (in 2004) of the state death tax credit
on the federal estate tax return. About three-quarters of the states limited
the amount of the death taxes they received to the amount of the state death
credit. With the reduction in the credit, these "pick-up" states
started to see their tax revenues decline and as a result about one-third of
them "decoupled" from the federal system. The decoupling states
implemented their own estate tax regime based on federal law that was in existence
prior to EGTRRA. In some circumstances this resulted in taxpayers paying a higher
combined federal and state estate tax than they would have paid under the law
before the enactment of EGTRRA, even though EGTRRA was heavily promoted as a
Joint Committee on Taxation Proposes Tax Law Changes Effecting Estate Planning
On January 27, 2005, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a 435 page report entitled "JCS-02-05 Options to Improve Tax Compliance and Reform Tax Expenditures." Assuming that the estate tax is not repealed, the following proposals contained in the JCT report may be enacted in order to tighten up several estate planning strategies the IRS has viewed as abusive.
Court Upholds Trust Nominee Clause and Finds No Revocation Where the Formalities
of Revocation and Amendment Were Not Followed by the Surviving Trustor
During the course of a long marriage, George and Barbara Heaps executed a joint
revocable living trust with both spouses acting as co-trustees. It provided
that the trust would split into two trusts, a "family trust" and
a "marital trust," after the death of the first of them. The surviving
spouse would act as co-trustee over the "family trust" with George
and Barbaras son and son-in-law. The surviving spouse would serve as
the sole trustee over the "marital trust."
Disclaimer Proves Fatal to Estate Plan
Mr. Katz executed a will in 1991 that called for the creation of a "pecuniary credit shelter trust" equal to the amount of the "aggregate federal estate tax exemption equivalent." The will language further provided that the credit shelter trust "shall not be reduced on account of any disclaimer by my wife." Finally, another provision in the will stated conflicting provision in this will, "if my wife disclaims any interest in any portion of the property otherwise passing outright to her under this Article of my will, such portion shall be added to the [credit shelter] trust." The purpose of the credit shelter trust created under Mr. Katz's will was to place an amount equal to the amount that can pass free of estate tax into trust so that it would eventually pass to his children without being subject to estate taxes in his wife's estate.
President Signs the Working Families Tax Relief Act and the American Jobs Creation Act
President Bush signed into law the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004. It provides for approximately $146 billion in tax breaks aimed primarily at middle-income taxpayers and businesses of all sizes.
Bank and Trust Officer Held Liable for Estate Tax
Learn the facts as well as lessons that should be learned from the case of Hatleberg v. Norwest Bank Wisconsin, 678 N.W.2d 302 (Wis. App. 2/24/2004)
Internal Revenue Service - 1, Taxpayers - 1, Third Set Remains to be Played!!!
On September 1, 2004, the long awaited decision of the Third Circuit on the Thompson
FLP case was released (Turner v. Commr., 94 AFTR.2d 2004-5764
(3rd Cir. 2004), affg Thompson v. Commr., TC Memo 2002-246
(The case was appealed by Mr. Thompsons executor, Betsy Turner, and thus
the name change). Encouraged by the Fifth Circuits favorable decision in
the Kimbell case (reported in our May 2004 Fax Alert), many estate planning
attorneys were hoping for another taxpayer victory. But that was not to be with
Thompson, as the Third Circuit upheld the Tax Courts decision
in favor of the Internal Revenue Service. The score is now tied while estate planners
wait for the decision in the appeal of another important FLP case, Strangi
v. Commr., to emerge from the Fifth Circuit.