Utilizing intrafamily loans and trusts is one way that wealthy families can maximize their estate planning strategies. A recent issue of Barron’s features, “How Family Loans and Trusts Can Create Big Wins,” and outlines the specifics on intrafamily loans as an estate planning tool. The note has a fixed value, no matter how big the underlying asset grows.
With low interest rates, families with taxable estates can benefit from structured trusts and intrafamily loans. Not that these intrafamily loans have their own rates and rules – the rates on intrafamily loans allow parents to lend their children cash at rates far lower than a comparable commercial loan. Plus, they can be part of a broader wealth-transfer strategy.
For instance, an aging millionaire can fund a trust for his children’s benefit with a $100,000 gift. He then loans it $900,000 at the allowable 1.82 percent interest rate for five years, which the trust invests. The trust makes regular payments on the loan and then repays the principal in full at the term’s end. Any investment gains over that extremely low interest rate are tax-free in the trust for the next generation – it’s all legal and great planning.
There are added benefits for using this trust – the oddly named intentionally defective grantor trust. It’s considered an irrevocable complex trust for estate-tax purposes (the assets transferred to it are out of the individual’s estate) and a grantor trust for income-tax purposes. By paying the income taxes on the trust’s income, more is left for the next generation.
A note of caution! Be sure that the loans are just that: they are loans. If they’re determined to be gifts by the IRS, you could owe gift tax at 40% (but the annual gift-tax exclusion is $14,000, and the lifetime gift-tax exemption is $5.43 million). Make sure it’s a loan with the proper documents, terms and interest rate. Payments must be made on time. When you’re planning your wealth transfer, consider a loan and a trust, but do it right with the help of a qualified estate planning attorney.
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Reference: Barron’s (September 26, 2015) “How Family Loans and Trusts Can Create Big Wins”