It’s Time to Revisit Old Trusts – New Federal Exemptions Could Give Wealthy Families a False Sense of Security

The end of 2017 saw significant changes in federal tax law when President Donald Trump signed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” The impact of the Act on estate planning could affect those with existing estates and those who might be considering drafting a trust in the future. While many changes will work to benefit estates, there are several things to be aware of and consider.

Changes to Exemption

Before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, federal exemptions for wealthy families were capped at 5 million dollars but has now been increased to $11.18 million per person (including inflation). This means that before 2018, married couples could have exemptions up to $23.36 million. Any gifts under these new exemptions can be made tax-free during your life and also upon your death as an inheritance.

Something to consider about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is its expiration date. The new regulations will expire at the end of 2025. They are then expected to revert to the previous amount of 5 million per person barring any changes from Congress. While past amounts will be adjusted for inflation, the new model for calculating inflation is expected to change and will yield a lower rate of inflation year-over-year.

However, estates valued at less than $5 million are less impacted by the new regulations.

How Federal Tax Reform Affects State Tax

Estate tax on the state level has remained unchanged. If your state assesses estate taxes, you will still be required to pay those taxes. The state of Nevada has some of the most favorable tax laws in the country and many people establish Nevada trusts to take advantage of them.

If you currently live in a state which assesses high taxes on estates or income produced by your estate, you may want to consider moving your trust to a state with no income tax, no estate tax, and favorable tax laws such as Nevada.

Some great news about exemption limits is the ability to gift more freely until 2025 when the limits expire. It will be easier to gift estate assets without incurring federal gift and estate taxes until that time. The state of Nevada has no gift tax, so staying under the federal cap is your only concern for assets established in Nevada.

Nevada does not have an inheritance tax either, but keep in mind that even if your state does not have an inheritance tax, if you gift assets to someone in a state which does, it’s possible for the beneficiary to get taxed on those assets.

What to Watch Out For

Higher exemptions have caused one big problem that could go undetected: accidental disinheritance. If you have an older trust that was written for a smaller tax exemption and your trust stipulates that the exempt amount of your estate should pass to your children and the rest to your spouse – you may accidentally leave up to $11.2 million to your children and nothing to your spouse depending on the size of your estate.

Learn more about Trust Decanting.

Regardless of estate size, it’s important to review your old trusts to make sure that the terms of that trust still make sense for your current life situation.

Does a Trust Still Make Sense in Light of New Federal Exemptions?

Some people may be compelled to review their old trusts and choose to allow their assets to pass into a “credit shelter” trust. This tactic does pass your income along to your spouse and children. However, families who use such trusts miss out on a huge tax break from stock and real estate assets.

Trusts also help shield assets from federal estate tax even with higher exemptions and allow more control over assets. Another thing to keep in mind as you choose whether or not to create a trust is that the higher exemptions put into place by President Trump will only last until 2025. It may be better to think of them as being artificially high.

Learn More About the Tax-Favored State of Nevada

You don’t have to live in Nevada to take advantage of its favorable tax and trust laws. By establishing your assets in the state and using a Nevada resident trustee, like Alliance Trust Company of Nevada.

There are more benefits than favorable tax law in the state of Nevada. Those who establish trusts in the state can also experience benefits like short seasoning periods, iron-clad asset protection laws, and the ability to develop dynasty trusts that last hundreds of years and more.

Contact Alliance Trust Company of Nevada to learn more about how you can make the most of higher federal exemptions and benefit from fewer state taxes.

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