Helping You Understand Complex Types Of Trusts

Below is a wealth of information on a variety of types of trusts that we can handle at Famulary. The Asset Protection Law Firm.

For additional information on these or other estate planning matters, call us today at 503-863-2732 or contact our lawyer online. We represent clients in the Portland area and surrounding communities from our offices in Beaverton, Corvallis and Salem.


Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is a trust arrangement that cannot be undone (hence, the term "irrevocable"). In other words, when the grantor transfers property to the trustee of the irrevocable trust, it is a completed gift under property law and the grantor has no interest in and cannot withdraw that gift. Irrevocable trusts have countless variations and are used in order to minimize death tax liability and for asset protection purposes.


Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust

Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT) have many variations, but generally it is an irrevocable trust that purchases a life insurance policy on the life of the grantor. The grantor makes gifts to the trust in order to pay for the insurance premiums. The main benefit of an ILIT is that when grantor dies, the value of the life insurance policy is not included in his gross estate (as it would be if grantor paid for the premiums directly). ILITs are generally used in conjunction with other estate planning tools.


Spousal Lifetime Access Trust

The spousal lifetime access trust (SLAT) is a variation of the ILIT that gives a surviving spouse access to the trust funds.

  • Example: Grantor-husband settles an SLAT with his wife and children as beneficiaries. The SLAT purchases a life insurance policy on the life of grantor-husband. When grantor-husband dies, the SLAT funds (to include the life insurance payout) are not in grantor's estate (and thus not subject to estate tax) and his surviving spouse has access to the insurance funds in the SLAT for her life. When the surviving spouse dies, the children take the remainder of the SLAT funds.

Grantor Retained Annuity Trust

A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is a highly sophisticated irrevocable trust/private annuity combination that can provide for reduced gift tax transfers. Without boring you with the complexities of the GRAT, let me just tell you generally when a GRAT is beneficial for a person: When (1) the grantor is worth over $5.25 million (or if married over $10.5 million), and (2) the grantor is very confident he owns assets that he could transfer to the GRAT that will appreciate more than the current §7520 applicable federal rate (AFR) (the October 2013 AFR is 2.4 percent). Complex actuary tables published by the IRS are used to determine the value of the gift made by the grantor (taking into account the amount and frequency of annuity payment, and sometimes the age of grantor, etc.).

  • Example: Grantor, age 60 settles a GRAT and funds it with $500,000 of high-yield bonds, with annuity payments of $25,000 to be payed at the end of each year for 10 years. The GRAT is settled in a month when the AFR is 2.6 percent. Using the IRS tables, we determine that the remainder of the trust property has a present value of $297,802.50, which means grantor pays gift tax on that $297,802.50. Assuming the grantor survives the 10-year term, the beneficiaries of the GRAT (likely the children of grantor) take $500,000 of bonds. Because grantor paid gift tax on only $297,802.50, he saved gift tax on $202,197.50, which equals roughly $80,879.20 of gift tax savings (all for a nominal price of settling the GRAT).
  • If your net worth is less than the amounts listed above, we believe we can offer you better options. There are several variations of the GRAT, and we can help you determine what kind of GRAT is best for you (if any).

Installment Sale To An Intentional Grantor Trust (IGT)

An installment sale to an intentional grantor trust (IGT) achieves essentially the same thing that a GRAT does (reduced gift tax transfer of wealth), but in a vastly different way. Here, grantor sells an asset to the IGT in exchange for a promissory note, which is generally structured to make payments of principle and interest in installments (interest rate is determined according to §1274 — October 2013 rate is between .32 percent and 3.5 percent, depending on the duration of the promissory note). The note is structured so that grantor receives payments for the exact amount of the sale plus interest, which means the trust property in excess of the principle and interest payments stays in trust for the beneficiaries and passes gift tax free. An IGT may be beneficial to a person similarly situated to the person described above in the GRAT scenario. However, depending on the term of years, using the IGT's §1274 rate may be more beneficial than the GRAT's §7520 rate.

  • Example: Grantor settles an IGT, and sells (on installment) his rental property worth $1 million to the IGT, on a 20-year term when the §1274 AFR is 2.6 percent. In exchange, the IGT gives grantor a promissory note for $1,670,887.52 ($1 million plus 2.6 percent interest, compounded annually), payable in monthly payments of $6,962.03. At the end of the 20-year term, the investment property is worth $2.5 million. Thus, the IGT beneficiaries (generally grantor's children) take the investment property and grantor paid no gift tax on the $829,112.48 gift (difference between value of property at end of term and amount paid to grantor in installment payments). Had grantor not sold his property to an IGT, but held on to it for 20 years and then gifted it (either while still alive or a testamentary gift), the property could have been liable for gift or estate tax of $331,645 (40 percent of $829,112.48).

Charitable Remainder Trust

A charitable remainder trust (CRT) functions similarly to a GRAT, except here, the annuity payments go to the beneficiary and the remainder interest go to a charity. Because the remainder goes to charity, the grantor receives deductions for both income tax and gift tax for the value of the charitable remainder interest. As with the GRAT, the §7520 AFR is used in conjunction with actuarial tables published by the IRS. CRTs have many variations, and are commonly used by high net worth individuals with appreciated assets.

  • Example: Grantor settles a CRT and funds with marketable securities worth $200,000, with an adjusted basis of $50,000. The trust provides for an 8 percent annuity to be paid to the beneficiary (grantor's child) annually for 20 years, and then for the remainder to pass to a qualified charity. The AFR is 7 percent. The CRT sells the securities for $200,000, and invests the entire sum in corporate bonds that yield $15,000 per year in interest. The beneficiary receives $14,000 per year for 20 years (totaling $280,000), and grantor receives a $40,548 income tax deduction. Grantor has also made a $159,452 taxable gift to child (instead of paying gift tax of 40 percent on $280,000). Had grantor given child the stock and had child sold the stock for $200,000, child would have had to pay $30,000 in capital gains taxes, and would have had only $170,000 to invest.

Crummey Trust

Crummey trusts are an excellent tool for high net worth individuals to avoid or eliminate death taxes. Here's how it works: When a grantor makes a gift to an irrevocable trust, the gift is complete for state property law purposes, but does not necessarily meet the requirements under the internal revenue code to avoid the gift tax. The internal revenue code requires a "present interest" be given (as opposed to a "future interest"). Because most irrevocable trusts afford the beneficiaries a future interest (i.e., "trustee shall distribute trust property to beneficiary when beneficiary reaches 35 years of age"), the grantor's gift to the irrevocable trust does not qualify for the annual $14,000 gift tax exclusion. The Crummey trust (named after a party in a court case — not because the trust is "crummy") is an irrevocable trust that creates a present interest in the gift, because by the terms of the trust agreement, the beneficiaries have a period of time to withdraw grantor's gift to the trust. If the gift is not withdrawn, then it lapses into the rest of the trust property.

  • Example of regular irrevocable trust: Grantor settles a irrevocable trust and contributes $14,000 each year to the trust. Grantor is responsible for paying a gift tax of 40 percent of $14,000 ($5600) each year.
  • Example of Crummey trust: Grantor settles a Crummey trust and he and his wife contribute $14,000 each year to the trust for each of their three beneficiary-children. The beneficiaries have notice of the power to withdraw and they refuse to each year. A $14,000 gift to the trust for each child-beneficiary from each parent equals $84,000 per year in total gifts. Twenty years of such gifts equal $1.68 million that has been transferred to the trust and removed from the estate of grantor-parents, not to mention all of the interest that the money would accumulate. A modest interest rate may put that number to $2.5 million. If parent's did not settle a Crummey trust, their estate could be liable (depending on its size) for 40 percent estate tax on that $2.5 million ($1 million). In other words, this hypothetical couple could have saved $1 million in estate taxes all for a nominal attorney's fee of setting up a Crummey trust.