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THE STATUTE “SAYS WHAT IT MEANS AND MEANS WHAT IT SAYS”

U.S. v. McNICOL 829 F.3d 77 (1st Cir. 2016) (cert. denied 1/9/2017)

Trusts and Estates practitioners often focus solely on the Tax Code found in Title 26 of the United States Code and ignore other parts of the United States Code (U.S.C.). However, it is a mistake to do so as Marci McNicol learned first-hand. In this case, the Federal Priority Statute found in 31 U.S.C. § 3713 came into play to impose liability on Marci for the decedent’s unpaid Federal income tax liability.

Here, at the time of his death, the decedent owed over $300,000 in Federal income taxes. As a result of this and other liabilities, the decedent’s estate, which consisted almost entirely of interests in two closely held companies, was insolvent. Marci, the decedent’s widow, transferred decedent’s interest in one of the companies to herself even before the court had appointed

COPYING IS BEST IN THE ING WORLD

PLR 201642019

Not only is strict adherence to the structure set out in prior favorable rulings best, it is essential when it comes to obtaining a favorable ING ruling. The provisions in the trust document need to carve a very fine line through the grantor trust/incomplete gift rules to obtain a favorable ING ruling. The goal is to have the Service rule that a trust is not a grantor trust for income tax purposes yet not a completed gift for gift tax purposes and included in the grantor’s estate to get a basis adjustment at death.

The earliest ruling, ILM 201208026, fell short of a favorable ruling with the Service finding that the retained testamentary power of appointment was insufficient to avoid a completed gift. By 2014, practitioners had carefully studied this early ruling and devised a set of trust provisions that

NO AUTOMATIC CLOSING LETTER, BUT WAIT – THERE ARE ALTERNATIVES

IRS Notice 2017-12

The Service issued FAQs in June of 2015 to let practitioners know that they were no longer routinely issuing closing letters. The Service instructed practitioners that they would now have to request such a closing letter, but could not do so until 4 months after filing the estate tax return. Their goal was to reduce the amount of work the Service needed to complete as a cost cutting measure. However, taxpayers need closure and the requests for closing letters almost became routine. Because so many practitioners were routinely requesting closing letters, the Service let it be known informally, with a posting on its website, that a transcript could be requested, and would be an acceptable substitute for an estate tax closing letter. But requesting such a transcript has not been a simple matter, with many groans of frustration along the way. The Service has now provided guidance

THE CHOICE IS NOW YOURS

THE CHOICE IS NOW YOURS

October 6, 2016

Authored by: Kathy Sherby and Charles Lin

Rev. Proc. 2016-49

The recent issuance of Rev. Proc. 2016-49, which modifies and supersedes Rev. Proc. 2001-38, now puts the taxpayer in the driver’s seat. Recall that in Rev. Proc. 2001-38, the Service was providing relief for the surviving spouse when an unnecessary QTIP election was made, by treating such a QTIP election as though it had not been made. Practitioners began to question whether Rev. Proc. 2001-38 would render a QTIP election a nullity when made in order to qualify for a state marital deduction where such an election was not needed to reduce the Federal estate tax liability to zero. Then when portability came into the picture, the enhanced concern about basis adjustment at death drove practitioners to want to make a QTIP election even though not needed to reduce the estate tax liability, to permit the surviving spouse to make larger gifts that would not

JUST HOW IS BASIS ACQUIRED AFTER ALL?

Dorrance v. U.S., 2015 WL 8241954 (9th Cir. 2015)

This case is the latest in the cases involving tax impact of the sale of stock received by a policy holder from a mutual life insurance company on demutualization, and a case of first impression at the Federal circuit court level.  Here, the Dorrances purchased life insurance policies from several mutual life insurance companies in 1996 to replace the then estimate of their anticipated estate tax liability.  In 2003, the Dorrances received stock in the resulting stock company when each of these mutual life insurance companies demutualized in a tax free transaction into a stock company.  The Dorrances then sold this stock also in 2003, and reported the sales on their 2003 income tax return as capital gain transactions, reporting a zero cost basis.  The Dorrances later filed a claim for refund, now asserting that the stock received in

ALL ASSETS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL WHEN IT COMES TO IRA ROLLOVERS (PLR 201547010)

When the taxpayer in PLR 201547010 decided to invest his IRA assets in a partnership, he forgot to check whether his IRA provider was able to hold an interest in a partnership as an investment in the IRAs for which it served as custodian.  While all IRA accounts are able to hold investments in publicly traded securities, i.e. stocks, bonds and mutual funds, not all IRA custodians are set up to handle alternative investments, such as direct ownership of a business, real estate, partnership interests and LLC member interests, in their IRA accounts managed pursuant to their IRA account agreements.  In fact, some IRA account agreements specifically preclude ownership of such alternative assets in the IRA accounts covered by the IRA custodian’s account agreement.

In this PLR, Taxpayer A instructed the IRA Custodian to invest his IRA assets in a percentage partnership interest of Partnership C.  The IRA Custodian issued

Calling Captain Obvious?

Calling Captain Obvious?

November 5, 2015

Authored by: Kathy Sherby and Stephanie Moll

 

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With some minor exceptions, the facts are the same in PLR 201525002& PLR 201525003. In these PLRs, the Grantor transferred funds to an irrevocable trust for the Grantor’s own benefit and the benefit of several charities. In each case, the trust was created in a state other than the state of residence of the Grantor. In addition to the Trustee, each trust had an Investment Advisor, a Distribution Advisor, a Charity Distribution Advisor and a Trust Protector, none of whom were trust beneficiaries, except that the Charity Distribution Advisor was the Grantor’s spouse who was a potential appointee.

The Distribution Advisor had the power to direct the Trustee as to whether to make Quarterly Distributions, Support Distributions and Special Contingent Distributions to the Grantor, and also had the power to direct the

Let’s Go Over this Again: Remember to Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

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Even though you think you have done everything right, the statute of limitations may not have started to toll if your Form 709, Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, contains errors. Once a properly completed (how much can we stress the words PROPERLY COMPLETED?) Form 709 is filed, the Service must assess the amount of any gift tax within three years of the filing date. Under the Regs, a transfer is adequately disclosed when the return provides the following:

(i) A description of the transferred property and any consideration received by the transferor; [and] … (iv) A detailed description of the method used to determine the fair market value of property transferred, . . . including any financial data . . . utilized in determining the value of the interest.

WHEN IS AN ADOPTION NOT EFFECTIVE TO CHANGE INHERITANCE RIGHTS?

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In Lubin v. AT&T Ret. Sav. Plan (2015 WL 4397703), an adoption was not given effect in determining who would receive the life insurance benefits at issue.

In this case, Austin Hardy participated in a Retirement Savings Plan (“Plan”), which included a life insurance benefit. At his death, he was survived by his sisters, Pauline Lubin and Frances Koryn (Plaintiffs), and his biological daughter, Jennifer Krokey. Although Krokey was Hardy’s biological child, she had been subsequently adopted by a step-father. Under Florida law, a child who is adopted is the child of the adopting parent and ceases to be a child of the biological parent for all purposes.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE TRUST IS NOT ASSET PROTECTED?

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In a recent bankruptcy case, Richard Lewiston unsuccessfully attempted to shelter his assets in the Lois and Richard Lewiston Living Trust (the “Trust”) from inclusion in his bankruptcy estate based on the Trust’s spendthrift provision. Here, the bankruptcy court looked to Michigan state law in applying the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code and concluded the Trust property was part of Lewiston’s bankruptcy estate.

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