estate planning lawyers Minneapolis

Estate Planning: Crummey Trusts

Are you interested in reducing the amount of possible estate taxes you may have to pay? Do you desire to avoid paying gift taxes, but have concerns about gifting your children or grandchild large sums of money when they are perhaps too young to handle it responsibly? Then a Crummey Trust may be the answer for you. This article will explain the basics of Crummey Trusts and how they are usually used in estate and gift tax planning.

Gift and Estate Taxes

Typically, taxpayers who believe that they may eventually be subject to estate taxes will make lifetime gifts to their children or grandchildren. Currently, each taxpayer may give no greater than $13,000 per year per recipient, under the annual gift exclusion, and this amount will generally be excluded from gift and estate taxes. (This amount is often adjusted by the IRS for inflation). The lifetime gift tax exemption for 2011 is $5 Million.

However, the problem with outright gifts of large amounts of money to young children is obvious to many parents. Once the money is gifted, it can be difficult to control how it will be spent. Thus, often taxpayers will want a better way to reduce their estate taxes, without giving up control of how the money given will be used.

The Problem with Standard Trusts

Because of the drawbacks listed above, taxpayers may desire instead to use a standard trust. A typical trust may help reduce estate taxes, and at the same time, if set up properly, will place limitations upon how and when the money is distributed to any beneficiaries.

The problem with common trusts, however, is that the annual gift tax exclusion is only available for present interests (e.g., gifts, because they allow a recipient unfettered control of the money), and gifts made to a trust will not usually meet this legal definition because they often constitute future interests under the conditions of the trust.

The Crummey Trusts

A possible way around this predicament then is to use a “Crummey Trust”. A Crummey Trust, named for the taxpayers who first created it, allows individuals to set conditions on how and when money transferred to the trust will be distributed to beneficiaries, and at the same time gives taxpayers the ability to take the annual gift tax exclusion. A Crummey Trust also has the advantage that it can be created for multiple beneficiaries.

Under a Crummey Trust, beneficiaries to the trust are given a window period granting them the right to withdraw money from the trust as soon as the money is deposited (typically within 30 days). The right to immediate withdrawal only applies to the current amount of money gifted to the trust ($13,000 or less (following the number as adjusted by the IRS), per recipient and per year), and not any other sum of money accumulated in the trust. Under the legal case involving the original Crummey Trust, the court determined that the right to immediately withdraw the money constituted a present interest, and therefore was valid for purposes of the annual gift tax exclusion.

Thus, for the Crummey Trust purposes, it is a legal requirement that the right of withdrawal exists. If the money is not immediately withdrawn, it then remains with the trust’s funds, subject to its applicable conditions.

Taxpayers often have concerns under Crummey Trusts that young beneficiaries will decide to immediately take out the money, thus destroying the basic advantages of this type of trust. However, this potential problem is often addressed by pointing out the practical aspects of estates and by notifying beneficiaries that, if any of the money is immediately withdrawn, then that beneficiary will not receive any more money or inheritance – in a large estate, these amounts will likely far exceed the one-time $13,000 withdrawal.

The Crummey Trust can thus be a powerful tool to reduce your estate taxes, avoid gift taxes, and help fund your children’s or grandchildren’s future dreams and plans.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Proper Estate and Gift Tax Planning

This article can only provide a broad overview of the highly complex topic of Crummey Trusts; therefore, it should not be relied upon to determine whether this type of trusts is the best option in your particular case. For a sound legal advice with respect to estate and gift tax planning, contact Sherayzen Law Office to create the right plan for you.

2010 Form 8939 is Due on November 15, 2011

On August 5, 2011, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance on the treatment of basis for certain estates of decedents who died in 2010. The guidance assists executors who are making the choice to opt out of the estate tax and have the carryover basis rules apply. Form 8939, the basis allocation form required to be filed by executors opting out of the estate tax, is due on November 15, 2011.

Under the guidance issued today, an executor must file Form 8939, Allocation of Increase in Basis for Property Acquired from a Decedent, to opt out of the estate tax and have the new carryover basis rules apply. The IRS expects to issue Form 8939 and the related instructions early this fall.

Under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the estate tax was repealed for persons who died in 2010. However, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 reinstated the estate tax for persons who died in 2010. This recent law allows executors of the estates of decedents who died in 2010 to opt out of the estate tax, and instead elect to be governed by the repealed carry-over basis provisions of the 2001 Act. This choice is to be made by filing Form 8939.

Estate Planning Lawyers Minneapolis | Latest Estate and Gift Tax Cuts

Prior to the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the “Act”) and after abolishment of the estate tax for decedents dying in 2010, the estate tax was scheduled to return in the tax year 2011 with a maximum tax rate of 55% and a $1 million exclusion.

Under the Act, however, the maximum estate tax rate for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2011, is 35% and an applicable exclusion amount is $5 million ($10 million for married couples) for decedents dying on or after January 1, 2011, and on or before December 31, 2012. The Act also reinstates the stepped-up basis regime for assets included in the estate.

Similarly, the maximum gift tax rate will be 35% for the tax years 2011 and 2012 with a maximum applicable exclusion amount of $5 million. It is important to note that for gifts made after December 31, 2009, and before January 1, 2011, the gift tax is computed based on a top tax rate of 35% and a maximum applicable exclusion amount of $1 million.

Note that the Act includes additional provisions on the estate and gift taxes. For example, estates of decedents who died after December 31, 2009 but before January 1, 2011, may elect to apply the 35% rate and stepped-up basis regime instead of the carryover basis regime otherwise applicable for 2010. The Act further includes a “portability” provision which would allow a surviving spouse to take advantage of the unused portion of the estate tax exclusion of his or her predeceased spouse, thereby providing the surviving spouse with a larger exclusion amount.