GRATs Can Be Great In Virginia

G-is-for-gratitudeIn a low interest rate environment, a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) can serve as a powerful estate planning tool to allow … high net worth [individuals] to transfer assets with minimal—and in some cases zero—tax liability.

GRATs are still pretty great, but we might have to act soon! The law and the market conditions that give Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) their power are still favorable.  However, as a recent ThinkAdvisor article warns, “The Clock Is Ticking on GRATs.

These past few years have been a perfect time for estate tax planning with GRATs. They thrive in a low interest rate environment where so many other plans languish. Briefly, the GRAT works by allowing the grantor to put assets into the trust which then continues to provide regular annuity payments to the grantor for life or for a term ofyears. Eventually, at the expiration of those annuity payments, the remainder interest in the GRAT passes to the trust beneficiaries.

The taxable gift value of the reminder interest is determined, in part, by the current month’s “applicable federal (interest) rate” (or either of the previous two months, if lower) for the month the trust is funded. Accordingly, a great time to implement a GRAT is when such interest rates are low (and especially if the rate is expected to climb). The value of the assets in the trust simply needs to outperform the low rate you have locked in for the maximum benefit.  

While there are many complicated ways to make a GRAT do even more wonders, especially for highly appreciated assets, but there are at least two easy ways to ruin them.

First, do not die. Seriously, the grantor must outlive the annuity term of the trust. Until the annuity term ends, the assets are “grantor retained” and will wind up counting as part of the grantor’s estate and taxed as such. For this reason GRATs are commonly created with a shorter term than the life expectancy of the grantor.

Second, do not procrastinate. As long as there is a sitting Congress and a president in the White House, no tax planning is safe. In fact, more than a few proposals have been advanced to limit GRATs. Even though existing GRATs almost certainly would be grandfathered, why take that risk?  

Bottom line: If you are considering a GRAT, this may be the perfect window to proceed in earnest.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia.  Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. 

Reference: ThinkAdvisor (July 29, 2013) “The Clock Is Ticking on GRATs


Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment


We have a LOT more where that came from!

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now https://jsfiddle.net/7h5246b8/

Request a free consultation

We hate spam too. We will never share or sell your information.

We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.