You’d like your wealth to go to your loved ones or the charity of your choice—not to the government. From creation to administration, our attorneys work with clients to create wealth management solutions that provide for family, friends, and charity while minimizing taxes, in a manner that encourages productivity and cohesive family governance.
The assets you’ve worked hard to acquire and grow can continue to benefit your desired beneficiaries only if the conditions and means for transfer have been carefully planned. Venable attorneys create tailored asset-management, estate, and business succession plans for individuals, businesses, and families. We are grounded in the rules and regulations governing income, gift, and estate taxes, and we work closely with financial advisors to structure plans that protect assets, benefit future generations, and facilitate the support of charitable, educational, and religious institutions. This includes providing counsel and solutions to ensure as much wealth as possible goes to our clients' loved ones or their favorite charity.
Whether you are still accumulating wealth, or have a significant estate to leave as your legacy, planning for taxes, charitable giving, creditor protection, and the succession of the wealth that you have earned are important. Our attorneys are prepared to incorporate a range of wealth planning solutions that are tailored to the needs of your estate plan, including:
- Asset protection
- Business continuity planning and business exit strategies
- Buy-sell agreements and business succession plans
- Charitable giving
- Estate and trust administration
- Family limited partnerships and family limited liability companies
- Formation of public charities and private foundations
- Grantor-retained annuity trusts
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Intrafamily sales and loans
- Family governance
- Life insurance and retirement-asset planning
- Limited liability companies
- Living trusts
- Post-mortem estate planning
- Powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives
- Pre-marital and post-marital agreements
- Private foundations
- Probate avoidance
- Probate and other judicial proceedings
- Representation before the Internal Revenue Service
- Serving as family advisor or trustee
Estate and Charitable Planning for Entertainment Industry Professionals
Individuals and companies involved in the entertainment industry face unique and complex tax issues that require careful planning, strategic advice, and a degree of sensitivity to address. We work closely with business and personal managers, financial advisors, and entertainment attorneys to craft tax and charitable planning strategies that reflect the needs of entertainment industry professionals.
Wealth Planning Strategies
Venable tax attorneys are experienced in helping clients create a wide array of wealth planning strategies.
Generation-Skipping Trust or Dynasty Trust
In 2018, you can leave $11.4 million to grandchildren (or more remote descendants) free of the estate tax and generation-skipping transfer tax. By setting up a generation-skipping trust, you can make this amount available for your spouse and children during their lifetimes, and ultimately transfer such property to grandchildren. This plan makes use of the $11.4 million exemption (or it may leverage this exemption), while preserving the wealth for the beneficiaries closest to the taxpayer.
A dynasty trust is a generation-skipping trust that lasts for more than two generations. This type of trust is particularly effective when it is used to purchase life insurance, because a million dollars’ worth of premiums can buy a far greater amount of coverage.
Grantor Retained Annuity Trust
You can transfer an investment property or business property to a trust for a set number of years. The trust pays you an annuity (a fixed dollar amount) each year. At the end of the term, any property left in the trust passes to your family, free of gift or estate tax.
Children’s or Grandchildren’s Trusts
You can leave up to $15,000 per year to children and grandchildren (or any other person), free of gift, estate, or generation-skipping transfer tax. Because grandchildren often are too young to handle large sums of money, however, it is often desirable to make such gifts to a trust. Such gifts can be made free of generation-skipping transfer tax if the trust qualifies under Internal Revenue Code Section 2642(c).
Qualified Personal Residence Trust
You can help your heirs avoid the estate tax on your home by transferring the home to a trust for a set number of years. The gift tax value of the house can be a fraction of what the value would be for estate tax purposes if it had remained in your name until death.
Recapitalizing a Closely Held Corporation Using Non-voting Common Stock
It is often desirable for business owners to begin giving away interests in their business to their children during their lifetimes to avoid large estate tax bills that can cripple the business after death. The owner may not be ready to give up control, however. One solution is to issue non-voting stock, which provides the shareholders no voting power.
Family Limited Partnership/Limited Liability Company
Another way to make lifetime gifts without giving up control is to give away non-voting or limited partner interests in a family limited liability company or family limited partnership. Family LLCs or partnerships can be created with a wide variety of assets. In effect, you create a “family business” that allows younger generations to participate in the management of the family wealth. Such gifts receive favorable treatment for gift-tax purposes.
If you own all or part of a family business, a buy/sell agreement should be in place to restrict transfers of interest in the business. The agreement should apply both during the lifetime and at the death of the owner of the interest. The agreement can also establish a mechanism for other owners, or the business itself, to buy out the share of a deceased owner.
Instead of leaving assets to charity in their wills, many clients can benefit from setting up a charitable-remainder trust during their lifetime. In the simplest version of this trust, the taxpayer transfers the property to the trust, and the trust pays the taxpayer a fixed percentage of the trust each year for the rest of the taxpayer’s life. Setting up a charitable-remainder trust allows the taxpayer to claim an income tax charitable deduction during his or her lifetime for assets that will pass to a charity at death. Moreover, the trust can liquidate appreciated stock without capital gain tax, thus converting low-yield property into a stream of income for the taxpayer.
Wealth Replacement Life Insurance Trust
A charitable-remainder trust often works best in conjunction with a life insurance trust. The lifetime advantages of the charitable-remainder trust discussed above (income tax deduction, higher yield on investments) can be used to purchase life insurance on the taxpayer’s life. Thus, at the death of the taxpayer, the life insurance proceeds go to the family, and the charitable-remainder trust goes to the charity. Both the charity and the family are benefited, instead of just one of them.
This is used to defer the estate tax obligation while at the same time converting the estate tax into a gift to charity. If it is structured correctly, a charitable-lead trust effectively converts the estate tax into twenty years of charitable payments, which can be made to the Family Foundation.
Intrafamily Sales and Loans
Under current tax laws, it is possible to sell your assets to a trust for your children in exchange for a promissory note with a fixed rate. The sale is ignored for income tax purposes, enabling you to shift future appreciation on your assets to your heirs without any income, gift, or estate taxation. In a low interest rate environment, loaning money to your heirs is also an effective wealth transfer technique.
The Technical and Personal Conduct of Probate
Our attorneys assist in what can be some of the most difficult decisions confronted when handling the distribution of wealth. The administration of estates and trusts often happens at a time when other matters are at hand. Who will receive the largest—and the smallest—shares of what is often a large sum of money and property? We are frequently called upon to help resolve disputes regarding wills, trusts, or estates, including litigation where required.
Risk of Controversy
Then there is also the prospect you would prefer not to think about: heirs contending in court over what was meant, or not meant, by your will. Vague language, contradictory instructions, seemingly inexplicable oversights, unusual designations, and last-minute codicils—these are just a few of the issues that can cloud and complicate the administration of a will. Venable can forestall such confusion and further ensure the proper allocation of your assets by working with you to frame the terms and conditions of your will.