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Planning and the Death of the Death Tax

Planning and the Death of the Death Tax

May 1, 2017

Authored by: Andrew Bleyer and Larry Brody

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On Wednesday afternoon the White House again proposed eliminating the so-called death tax as part of its tax reform plan, but the details remain sparse.  When pressed for specifics Director Cohn simply stated that with the implementation of the administration’s tax plan, the death tax would disappear.

The phrase “death tax” entered the popular lexicon by way of tax reformers wanting to summarize and caricature the several parts of the Federal transfer tax system.

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

Your Estate Planning New Year’s Resolution Checklist

(This is an updated post from December 2014)

Need a New Year’s resolutions to kick start 2016? Here is an idea you probably hadn’t considered: review your estate planning documents.

If you are like most people, you are probably thinking that reading legal documents does not sound like an even remotely enjoyable way to start a new year. But, it doesn’t have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. Reviewing your documents does not mean you have to read them cover to cover. If you know what are the most important elements, it is easy to review your will, trust, and powers of attorney regularly to ensure they still comply with your wishes. These documents not only determine who will receive your property when you die, but also likely determine who has the right to make financial and major medical decisions during your lifetime. Needless to say, it is important

Mission: Possible–Saving Estate Taxes on Life Insurance

The trailers for the newest installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, are being released and, as always when we see actors performing daredevil stunts, it makes us think about life insurance.  Hazard (I use the term loosely, in light of what these guys do) of the job, I guess.  So, once again, we thought we’d remind everyone about the use of life insurance trusts to reduce estate tax by re-posting the blog we wrote in after seeing his stunts for Ghost Protocol.

And, for your viewing pleasure, share another video of Mr. Cruise’s stunts.  (I’m starting to think Tom Cruise or Mission: Impossible should start sponsoring our blog!)

It’s true, it is possible to transfer life insurance proceeds to your beneficiaries without having to pay estate tax on those proceeds.  An insured can create an irrevocable trust that is designed to be the owner and beneficiary

IRS Rules on Estate Tax Treatment of Joint Trust Created in Non-Community Property State

stk119517rkeSeveral non-community property states have recently enacted statutes authorizing the creation of a joint trust by spouses that would be treated as entireties property, protected from the creditors of either spouse during their joint lifetimes, but would split into a separate Family Trust and Survivor’s Trust when one of them died. The question many estate planning lawyers have raised is whether the Family Trust would be includible in the survivor’s estate for Federal estate tax purposes when the survivor died. This question has now been answered at least as to one taxpayer in a private letter ruling, PLR 201429009 (released 7/18/2014).

In this private letter ruling, a Husband and Wife created a joint revocable trust. During their lives, they contributed their joint property

Bryan Cave Trusts and Estates Practice Receives National and Metropolitan First Tier Rankings by U.S. News & World Report

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U.S. News and Best Lawyers have joined to rank more than 12,000 firms in the U.S. in 120 practice areas in 174 metropolitan areas and 8 states.

Bryan Cave’s Trust and Estates Practice Group (“Private Client CSG”) received National First Tier Ranking and the Atlanta, Kansas City, Orange County, and St. Louis offices all received First Tier Rankings in metropolitan cities.

Congratulations to the Private Client Group!

The 2015 report of more than 12,000 firms by practice area is based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Results were combined into an overall “Best Law Firms” score for each firm.

Transfer for Value Rules on the Sale of a Survivor Life Policy

97733572In two substantially identical private letter rulings, PLR 201423009 (released 6/6/2014) and PLR 201426005 (released 6/27/2014), the taxpayers requested guidance as to the impact of a sale of a survivor life policy from a grantor trust where both insureds are the grantors to a grantor trust where only one of the insureds is the grantor.

The proceeds of a life insurance policy are free from income taxation in the hands of the recipient after the death of the insured(s), unless during the life of the insured(s) there was a transfer of an interest in the policy for valuable consideration. However, the transfer for value rule does not apply in two circumstances set out in § 101(a)(2)(A) and (B).

1. As provided in § 101(a)(2)(A), the transfer for value rule will not

Massachusetts Supreme Court Approves Decanting in Kraft Family Trust

From BryanCaveFiduciaryLitigation.com

What does a trustee do when an irrevocable trust needs to be modified?  Circumstances or laws may have changed in ways that could not have been anticipated at the time the trust was drafted.  In the past, a trustee who wanted to change some aspect of an irrevocable trust had few options, other than a court order to reform the trust which can be a costly and lengthy process.  Now, many states have alleviated the necessity of court approval to modify trusts by permitting “decanting.”  (For an example of such a statute, see our prior post, “How is an Illinois Trust Now Like a Fine Wine? It Can Be Decanted: A Summary of the New Illinois Decanting Statute”.)

Decanting is the term generally used to describe the distribution of trust property to another trust pursuant to the trustee’s discretionary authority to make distributions to, or for the

That Underwater Policy Does Not Have Any Value, Right?!

SCUBATaxpayers/insureds are often surprised when they are taxed on the value of an old policy that was underwater, when it was transferred to them, causing them to assume that the policy had no value for the government to tax. Here again, the taxpayers in Schwab v. Commissioner (9th Cir. 2013), were surprised that they had recognized taxable income on the distribution to them of life insurance policies from their non-qualified plan, which had surrender charges that exceed their cash value.

Michael and Kathryn, a married couple, were employees of Angels and Cowboys, Inc., which sponsored a non-qualified multi-employer welfare benefit plan that was administered by a third party. Each of them caused the plan to purchase, with a single premium, a variable universal life insurance policy with a three-year no lapse guarantee.

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