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Financial Planning > Trusts and Estates > Estate Planning

Estate Planning Demystified, and Saving Millions in Taxes on Gifts to Grandchildren

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As 2010 draws to a close, wealth managers can breathe a sigh from knowing what the estate and gift tax laws will be for 2011 and 2012.

For many wealth managers, the changes will make life simpler for clients—at least for the next two years. For an overview on the new estate and gift tax provisions, see our previous article on the new tax law: Clarity Comes to Estate Planning With Tax Bill's Passage.”

For families who wish to transfer extremely large asset, you may want to advise them to do so before the end of 2010. For instance, if they want to transfer an interest in a company to grandchildren, there are some Generation Skipping Transfer Tax (GSTT) plans that must be effected before the close of 2010.

While tackling this during the quiet week between Christmas and the new year might seem extreme, consider this: If your client is transferring $100 million in assets, taking advantage of this very short window of opportunity in the new tax law could save them more than $20 million in taxes, making the net transfer to grandchildren $65 million this week instead of $44 million after Jan. 1.  See “Generation-Skipping Tax: How to Save $20 Million Before 2011.”

The new estate tax exclusion of $5 million for individuals and $10 million for married couples may be a boon to couples with an estate falling into that exclusion—who would pay no estate tax in 2011 and 2012. It is further enhanced by the portability of the estate tax exclusion, which allows a spouse who does not use the $5 million exclusion before his or her death to pass it on to the surviving spouse who can then shield $10 million from estate taxes.

But for couples who have an AB Trust, estate planners will want to revisit the provisions of that trust, to prevent the unintended consequence of income tax liability for assets in a B Trust. For more on this provision, seeTax Law Holds Serious Implications for AB Trust Holders.” 


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