Estate Resources

Advanced Planning Techniques

Once a family's total estate has grown beyond $4,100,000, or the estate of a single person beyond $2,000,000 (the current exemption equivalent levels for 2011-2012), more sophisticated and advanced techniques need to be considered to allow the family or individual to cope with the heavy burdens of estate taxes and estate administration costs. Here are some of the more popular choices:

Irrevocable life insurance trusts - One of the few estate tax shelters left today, an ILIT allows the owner of an insurance policy to exclude the insurance death benefit from his or her taxable estate. These are often set up and funded with special second to-die life insurance policies as a means of proving the liquidity to pay estate taxes.

An old concept now used for a modern purpose, the LP/FLP allows the taxpayer to distribute the assets of a family business amongst various family members and beneficiaries during lifetime. The primary tax benefit is the ability to take advantage of minority and marketability discounts in appraising the estate, which can reduce the taxable value of a business by 35% or more.

Charitable remainder unitrusts - This is a special type of trust which allows the taxpayer to contribute highly appreciated assets to a charity, but during the lifetime of the donor and spouse, receive an annual income payment. A CRUT provides a triple tax deduction: capital gain income tax on appreciated property is avoided, a charitable income tax deduction is available, and the gifted assets are removed from the taxable estate. CRUTs are often used as a substitute for retirement funds for highly compensated individuals such as physicians and surgeons.

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