Estates and Trusts Tax Savings Strategies
Estate tax planning offers significant tax savings opportunities. This tends to get a lot of focus. What gets less focus is the income tax savings that can be realized by proper planning with estates and trusts.
Estate and Trust – Example 1
I had a client who was referred to me for advice relative to filing income tax returns for her father’s estate and testamentary trust. I determined that by electing to combine the trust with the estate, selecting an appropriate estate fiscal year, and timing the distributions to the heirs, we could save a significant amount of tax dollars.
I later assisted the executor settle an IRS audit of the estate tax return that had been prepared by her attorney. After the work I did for her on the estate and trust income tax returns as well as some advice regarding estate tax matters, she had a much higher degree of confidence in me assisting her with the estate audit than the attorney who had prepared the estate tax return.
Estate and Trust – Example 2
In the course of preparing the estate and testamentary trust income tax returns for an estate, I identified a debt that had not been deducted by the law firm who prepared the estate tax return. By getting the law firm to change the federal and state estate tax returns, I was able to create significant tax savings on the estate returns and free up some administrative expenses that I could use to reduce income taxes paid with the estate and trust income tax returns. Through the timing of paying certain expenses and taking distributions from an IRA, I was able to create some additional tax savings for the estate.
The IRA had a testamentary trust as the beneficiary. This made no sense from a planning perspective. The attorney recommended liquidating the IRA and paying the tax. I recommended distributing the IRA to the beneficiaries of the trust to preserve the tax deferral. This was a gray area of the tax law, but I determined that it should work and got the IRA custodian to handle it per my direction.
The cumulative benefit of the various tax strategies resulted in a substantial tax savings for the heirs of the estate.
Estate and Trust – Example 3
An estate had a 1/3 interest in a parcel of farm land. The other two-thirds was owned by heirs to the estate. By utilizing the estates fiscal year end and timing distributions of the gain, part of the capital gain on the land sale was realized in one year and the balance in the following year. Most of the heirs were able to take advantage of the 5% capital gains rate on a substantial portion of the gain. By splitting the gain between years, the portion taxed at 5% was doubled resulting in significant tax savings. The deferral of tax for a year was an added benefit.