Why I Hate TOP QUALITY RESIDENCES

A Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT) is a great tool for persons with large estates to transfer a principal residence or vacation home at the lowest possible gift tax value. The overall rule is that if an individual makes a gift of property in which she or he retains some benefit, the house continues to be valued (for gift tax purposes) at its full fair market value. Quite simply, there is no reduction of value for the donor’s retained benefit.

In 1990, to make sure that a principal residence or vacation residence could pass to heirs without forcing a sale of the residence to pay estate taxes, Congress passed the QPRT legislation. That legislation allows an exception to the overall rule described above. Subsequently, for gift tax purposes, a decrease in the residence’s fair market value is allowed for the donor’s retained interest.

For example, assume a father, age 65, includes a vacation residence valued at $1 million. He transfers the residence to a QPRT and retains the right to use the vacation residence (rent free) for 15 years. By the end of the 15 year term, the trust will terminate and the residence will undoubtedly be distributed to the grantor’s children. Alternatively, the residence can remain in trust for the benefit of the children. Assuming a 3% discount rate for the month of the transfer to the QPRT (this rate is published monthly by the IRS), the present value into the future gift to the children is $396,710. This gift, however, can be offset by the grantor’s $1 million lifetime gift tax exemption. If the residence grows in value at the rate of 5% per year, the worthiness of the residence upon termination of the QPRT will undoubtedly be $2,078,928.

Assuming an estate tax rate of 45%, the estate tax savings will undoubtedly be $756,998. Ki Residences Singapore The net result is that the grantor will have reduced how big is his estate by $2,078,928, used and controlled the vacation residence for 15 additional years, utilized only $396,710 of his $1 million lifetime gift tax exemption, and removed all appreciation in the residence’s value through the 15 year term from estate and gift taxes.

While there is a present lapse in the estate and generation-skipping transfer taxes, it’s likely that Congress will reinstate both taxes (perhaps even retroactively) time during 2010. If not, on January 1, 2011, the estate tax exemption (that was $3.5 million in 2009 2009) becomes $1 million, and the most notable estate tax rate (which was 45% in ’09 2009) becomes 55%.

Even though the grantor must forfeit all rights to the residence by the end of the term, the QPRT document can provide the grantor the right to rent the residence by paying fair market rent once the term ends. Moreover, if the QPRT was created as a “grantor trust” (see below), at the end of the word, the rent payments will never be subject to taxes to the QPRT nor to the beneficiaries of the QPRT. Essentially, the rent payments will be tax-free gifts to the beneficiaries of the QPRT – further reducing the grantor’s estate.

The longer the QPRT term, small the gift. However, if the grantor dies during the QPRT term, the residence will undoubtedly be brought back into the grantor’s estate for estate tax purposes. But because the grantor’s estate may also receive full credit for any gift tax exemption applied towards the initial gift to the QPRT, the grantor is not any worse off than if no QPRT had been created. Moreover, the grantor can “hedge” against a premature death by creating an irrevocable life insurance coverage trust for the advantage of the QPRT beneficiaries. Thus, if the grantor dies during the QPRT term, the income and estate tax-free insurance proceeds can be used to pay the estate tax on the residence.

The QPRT could be designed as a “grantor trust”. This means that the grantor is treated as the owner of the QPRT for tax purposes. Therefore, through the term, all property taxes on the residence will undoubtedly be deductible to the grantor. For the same reason, if the grantor’s primary residence is used in the QPRT, the grantor would qualify for the $500,000 ($250,000 for single persons) capital gain exclusion if the primary residence were sold through the QPRT term. However, unless all the sales proceeds are reinvested by the QPRT in another residence within two (2) years of the sale, a portion of any “excess” sales proceeds should be returned to the grantor each year during the remaining term of the QPRT.

A QPRT is not without its drawbacks. First, there is the risk mentioned above that the grantor does not survive the set term. Second, a QPRT can be an irrevocable trust – once the residence is placed in trust there is absolutely no turning back. Third, the residence will not receive a step-up in tax basis upon the grantor’s death. Instead, the foundation of the residence in the hands of the QPRT beneficiaries is equivalent to that of the grantor. Fourth, the grantor forfeits all rights to occupy the residence at the end of term unless, as mentioned above, the grantor opts to rent the residence at fair market value. Fifth, the grantor’s $13,000 annual gift tax exclusion ($26,000 for maried people) cannot be found in reference to transfers to a QPRT. Sixth, a QPRT is not an ideal tool to transfer residences to grandchildren due to generation skipping tax implications. Finally, by the end of the QPRT term, the house is “uncapped” for property tax purposes which, depending on state law, you could end up increasing property taxes.

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