ETA 2026 – Switching from Inclusion to Exclusion Planning for the Estate Tax

Currently (and since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017), we, like many other practitioners, have seen an incredible uptick in inclusion planning[1] instead of the traditional exclusion planning (getting assets out of one’s taxable estate). A primary driving force for this major shift was the essential doubling of the estate tax exemption (from…
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Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts – Have your cake and eat it, too

Shortly before his passing, Benjamin Franklin uttered one of his more infamous quotes, “In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.” With the certainty of death implicitly comes another: everyone will transfer his or her wealth, whether in life or after death. How a person transfers wealth will affect how the other certainty,…
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IRS Reverses Position on Modifying Irrevocable Grantor Trusts

The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”) 201647001 in November of 2016, in which it took the position that a modification to an irrevocable grantor trust to add a discretionary income tax reimbursement clause did not change the beneficial interests in the trust, and therefore did not result in a gift, because…
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Life Settlements of Life Insurance Policies: What, When, and How

Many individuals take out life insurance policies for valid planning reasons which later are no longer needed or desirable. Alternatively, the policy owner may need current liquidity. While many policies can be surrendered for their cash value or the owner may take loans against the policy, there may be other options. One of those options…
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Threading the Needle – The Utility and Structural Requirements of ING Trusts

Estate planners and tax practitioners have been utilizing incomplete non-grantor trusts, or “ING” trusts, with increased frequency. ING trusts can be utilized for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, federal income tax planning,[1] asset protection, planning for qualified small business stock benefits, income shifting through distributions to descendants, and others. While this…
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Your Estate Plan and Life Insurance – A Complementing Pair

It is estimated that approximately 52% of all Americans have some form of life insurance. On the other hand, there are also estimates that only 27% percent of Americans have some form of an estate plan in place. This article provides a brief and simple overview of how the two are not mutually exclusive, and…
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The Importance of a Properly Prepared Form 709 Gift Tax Return

In a prior article, I wrote about the importance of properly prepared Form 706 Estate Tax Return, discussing a Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”) that highlighted some common mistakes made on the Form 706.[1] In that article, I discussed issues related to the marital deduction and the allocation of a decedent’s unused Generation Skipping Transfer Tax…
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The Importance of a Properly Prepared Form 706 Estate Tax Return

A recent Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”) issued by the IRS highlighted the importance of a properly prepared Form 706 Estate (and Generation Skipping Transfer) Tax Return (“706”).[1] The PLR granted the requesting Estate a 120-day extension to make a QTIP election (discussed below) as well as divide the QTIP Trust into a Generation Skipping Transfer…
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Checks Written Before But Cashed After Death Includible in Gross Estate

In a recent Tax Court case[1], the Court held that the combined value of ten checks written prior to the decedent’s death, but cashed after his death, was included in the gross estate of the decedent. However, as discussed below, the IRS had conceded that three of the ten checks were not included in the…
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IRS Eases Portability Late Relief with Rev. Proc. 2022-32

“Portability” is the ability of a surviving spouse to elect to add his or her predeceased spouse’s unused estate tax exemption to their own estate tax exemption. For many clients, adoption of portability in 2010 (and making portability permanent in 2012) meant that complicated estate plans could be greatly simplified. Prior to portability, any unused…
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