The Estate Planner May/June 2012 SCIN protection Shield your estate from excessive tax exposure The conservation easement: Handle with care Are you familiar with fraudulent transfer laws? Estate Planning Red Flag You’re lending money to family members Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick,LLPCharlotte Columbus Sarasota Tampa ToledoFirst Citizens Bank Plaza Huntington Center 240 South Pineapple Ave. Bank of America Plaza North Courthouse Square128 South Tryon Street 41 South High Street 10th Floor 101 East Kennedy Blvd. 1000 Jackson StreetSuite 1800 Suite 2400 Sarasota, Florida Suite 2800 Toledo, OhioCharlotte, North Carolina Columbus, Ohio 34236-6717 Tampa, Florida 43604-557328202-5013 43215-6104 941.366.6660 33602-5151 419.241.9000704.375.0057 614.463.9441 813.229.7600 Distribution of The Estate Planner is limited to clients of Shumaker and estate planning professionals who request a subscription.
SCIN protection Shield your estate from excessive tax exposure T The $5.12 million gift and estate tax exemption is scheduled to drop to $1 million next year, and it’s not yet clear whether Congress will intervene. In light of this uncertainty, it’s a good idea to make for an installment note. Unlike an ordinary note, however, a SCIN is structured so that, if you die before the note is paid in full, the remaining payments are canceled and the unpaid balance is excluded from the most of the $5.12 million exemption while it your estate. (With an ordinary note, if you die during lasts. If you’ve already exhausted your exemption the term, the value of the right to receive future pay- through lifetime gifts, however, there are other ments is included in your estate.) techniques you can use to transfer wealth to your loved ones tax-free. A SCIN offers several other benefits: One such technique that’s particularly attractive ✦ he sale removes the property from your T now is the self-canceling installment note (SCIN). estate and transfers all future appreciation to the buyer — even if you retain control over How does a SCIN work? the property. (This would be the case if, for instance, you sold a minority interest in your To take advantage of a SCIN, you sell property — a business and kept the majority interest.) family business interest or real estate, for instance — to your children or other family members in exchange ✦ o long as the sale’s terms are commercially S reasonable, there’s no gift tax. ✦ ou receive an income-producing asset (the Y installment note). ✦ f you sell appreciated property, you can defer I taxes by spreading the capital gain over the note’s term. ✦ he buyer receives a stepped-up basis equal to T the purchase price, minimizing taxable gains if he or she later sells the property. ✦ he buyer may be able to deduct the interest T payments. ✦ f you die before the note is paid off, the buyer is I excused from making further payments, enjoy- ing a significant, tax-free windfall. For a SCIN to be effective — that is, to ensure that it won’t be treated, in part, as a taxable gift — its terms must be comparable to those that would be negoti- ated in an arm’s-length transaction. That means you must charge interest at the market rate, the note’s2
face value must be no less than the property’s fairmarket value and the note’s term cannot exceed Placing a premium on riskyour actuarial life expectancy at the time of the sale. To ensure that a self-canceling installmentAlso, you must charge the buyer a “risk premium” to note’s (SCIN’s) cancellation feature isn’t treatedcompensate yourself for the risk that the note will be as a gift, you must be compensated for its valuecanceled. (See “Placing a premium on risk” at right.) in the form of a risk premium. The premium can take the form of a higher purchase price,What are the downsides? a higher interest rate or a combination of the two. Placing a value on the risk of nonpaymentThe potential benefits of a SCIN are significant, but is a complex undertaking that requires the assis-they can come at a cost. The risk premium essentially tance of your estate planning advisor.increases the purchase cost. So, if you survive the term,the buyer will end up paying more than the property The way you structure the premium can haveis worth, reducing or even eliminating the estate tax significant tax implications. If you incorpo-benefits. There are other disadvantages as well: rate it into the purchase price, you’ll increase the buyer’s tax basis as well as the portion ✦ the buyer is a family member, he or she won’t If of each payment that’s taxed as capital gain. be able to sell the property for two years without If you incorporate it into the interest rate, adverse tax consequences. you’ll increase the portion of each payment that’s taxed as ordinary income, but you may ✦ he buyer will be responsible for financing the T also increase the buyer’s interest deductions. purchase. Ideally, the property will generate The optimal structure, from a tax standpoint, enough income to cover the note payments, depends on the parties’ financial circumstances. but if it doesn’t, the buyer will have to use other funds or risk default. ✦ f you die before the note is paid off, the unrec- I ognized gain will be taxable to your estate. ✦ f the IRS determines that the property was I undervalued, you may be hit with an unex- pected gift tax bill. So it’s a good idea to obtain a professional appraisal.If necessary, you can help the buyer with the notepayments by making tax-free gifts within the reason to believe you won’t reach your actuarial lifeannual exclusion amount — currently, $13,000 per expectancy (provided you’re not terminally ill).year ($26,000 if you and your spouse split the gift). Under the right circumstances, a SCIN can be a good estate planning option, so long as you understandYou bet your life the potential costs and risks involved. If the gambleA SCIN involves a bit of gambling. You’re betting that pays off, your family will enjoy sizable winnings inthe property’s appreciation in value over the note the form of income, gift and estate tax savings. Toterm will exceed the buyer’s note payments, resulting improve your odds, consult with your estate planningin a tax-free transfer of wealth. The odds of success advisor. Your SCIN must be carefully drafted and itsare greatest, therefore, when 1) property values are terms diligently observed to avoid an IRS claim thatdepressed and interest rates are low, and 2) you have the arrangement is a disguised gift. D 3
The conservation easement: Handle with care A A conservation easement can be a powerful estate planning tool, enabling you to receive significant income and estate tax benefits while continuing to own and enjoy your property. So it’s no surprise agency or qualified charity — by executing a “deed of conservation easement” and recording it in the appropriate public records office. The organization is responsible for monitoring the property’s use and that the IRS scrutinizes easements to ensure that enforcing the easement. they meet the tax code’s requirements. For you to qualify for tax benefits, the easement Recently, the IRS updated its Audit Technique Guide for must be granted exclusively for one of the following Conservation Easements (ATG). The fact that the ATG is conservation purposes: more than 100 pages demonstrates how serious the IRS is about uncovering abusive arrangements. 1. preserve land for public recreation or To education, 4 conservation purposes 2. protect a relatively natural habitat of fish, To The ATG provides taxpayers with a road map wildlife or plants, for ensuring that a conservation easement qualifies, with an emphasis on valuation and 3. preserve open spaces, either for the public’s To substantiation issues. “scenic enjoyment” or pursuant to a governmen- tal conservation policy that yields a “significant A conservation easement is an agreement to permanently public benefit,” or restrict some or all of the development rights associ- ated with a property. You grant the easement to a 4. preserve a historically important land area To conservation organization — usually a government or a certified historic structure. It’s critical to draft the easement carefully so there’s no confusion about which land uses you’re giving up and which ones you’re retaining. The tax benefits For estate tax purposes, you can exclude up to 40% of the land’s value (up to $500,000) from your gross estate (in addition to any reduction in value resulting from the easement itself). Certain limi- tations apply. For example, the exclusion is phased out as the ease- ment’s value falls below 30% of the land’s unencumbered value.4
For income tax purposes, a qualified conservationeasement entitles you to deduct the easement’svalue (defined as the difference between theproperty’s fair market value before and afterthe easement is granted) as a charitablegift. The deduction is subject to thesame limitations that apply to othercharitable donations. Generally,deductions are limited to 30% ofthe donor’s adjusted gross income(AGI), with the excess carried for-ward for up to five years.A 2006 tax law provision temporarilyincreased the limits for conservationeasements to 50% of AGI (100% for farm-ers and ranchers who meet certain require-ments) carried forward for up to 15 years. Theenhanced limits expired at the end of 2011 and, asof this writing, have not been extended. Draft a conservation easement carefully so that there’s no qualified appraisal; and written acknowledg- confusion about which land ment from the donee organization, uses you’re giving up and ✦ ailure to restrict development of the land in F which ones you’re retaining. perpetuity, allowing the easement to be aban- doned or terminated, andLike other noncash donations, conservation ease- ✦ ailure to ensure that any lenders’ rights to the Fments must be supported by a qualified appraisal. property are subordinated to the donee’s rights and that the donee has the right to share in theCommon mistakes proceeds in the event of a condemnation or other termination.The ATG identifies several common mistakestaxpayers make when donating conservation ease- The ATG also notes that the reservation of prop-ments. They include: erty rights must be consistent with the claimed conservation purpose. ✦ se of improper appraisal methodologies and U overvalued easements, Follow IRS rules ✦ ailure to comply with substantiation require- F If you’re contemplating a conservation easement, ments, including documentation of the contri- know that the IRS is scrutinizing them. Be sure to bution date, the conservation purpose, nature work with tax, legal and valuation professionals to of the contribution and other information; a avoid losing valuable tax benefits. D 5
Are you familiar with fraudulent transfer laws? B Because asset values are low and the gift tax exemption is high, now is a good time to transfer your wealth. But before you do so, ask your estate planning advisor about fraudulent transfer laws. In a nutshell, if your creditors challenge gifts, trusts, retitling of property or other strategies as fraudulent transfers, they can quickly undo your estate plan. 2 fraud types Most states have adopted the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (UFTA). The act allows creditors to challenge transfers involving two types of fraud that you should be mindful of as you weigh your estate planning options: 1. Actual fraud. This means making a transfer or incurring an obligation “with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor,” including current creditors and probable future creditors. That doesn’t constructively fraudulent if you made it without mean the fraudulent transfer laws protect anyone receiving a reasonably equivalent value in exchange who could conceivably become a creditor some day. for the transfer or obligation and you either were If that were the case, asset protection planning would insolvent at the time or became insolvent as a result be futile. of the transfer or obligation. But suppose a real estate investor discovers that one “Insolvent” means that the sum of your debts is of his properties is contaminated with hazardous greater than all of your assets, at a fair valuation. waste and immediately transfers all of his assets to You’re presumed to be insolvent if you’re not pay- an offshore trust. Clearly, that would be a fraudu- ing your debts as they become due. lent transfer even though no one has actually filed a lawsuit against the investor yet. Generally, the constructive fraud rules protect only present creditors — that is, creditors whose claims Just because you harbor no intent to defraud credi- arose before the transfer was made or the obligation tors doesn’t mean you’re safe from an actual fraud was incurred. In some cases, however, a future cred- challenge. Because a court can’t read your mind, it itor may challenge a transaction if it leaves you with will consider the surrounding facts and circumstances assets that are unreasonably small or if you intend to determine whether a transfer involves fraudulent or believe (or reasonably should believe) that you’ll intent. So before you make gifts or place assets in a be unable to pay your debts as they become due. trust, consider how a court might view the transfer. Know your net worth 2. Constructive fraud. This is a more significant risk for most people because it doesn’t involve intent Most estate planning strategies have an asset protec- to defraud. Under UFTA, a transfer or obligation is tion component. You may make gifts to your children6
Experience. Responsiveness. Value.At Shumaker, we understand that when selecting a law Estate planning is a complex task that often involves relatedfirm for estate planning and related services, most clients areas of law, as well as various types of financial services. Ourare looking for: clients frequently face complicated real estate, tax, corporate and pension planning issues that significantly impact their high level of quality, sophistication, and experience. A estate plans. So our attorneys work with accountants, financial planners and other advisors to develop and implement A creative and imaginative approach that focuses on strategies that help achieve our clients’ diverse goals. finding solutions, not problems. Shumaker has extensive experience in estate planning Accessible attorneys who give clients priority and related areas, such as business succession, insurance, treatment and extraordinary service. asset protection and charitable giving planning. The skills E ffectiveness at a fair price. of our estate planners and their ability to draw upon the expertise of specialists in other departments — as well asSince 1925, Shumaker has met the expectations of clients that other professionals — ensure that each of our clients has arequire this level of service. Our firm offers a comprehensive comprehensive, effective estate plan tailored to his or herpackage of quality, experience, value and responsiveness with particular needs and wishes.an uncompromising commitment to servicing the legal needsof every client. That’s been our tradition and remains ourconstant goal. This is what sets us apart. Shumaker, Loop Kendrick,LLP We welcome the opportunity to discuss your situation and provide the services required to help you achieve your estate planning goals. Please call us today and let us know how we can be of assistance.Charlotte Columbus Sarasota Tampa ToledoFirst Citizens Bank Plaza Huntington Center 240 South Pineapple Ave. Bank of America Plaza North Courthouse Square128 South Tryon Street 41 South High Street 10th Floor 101 East Kennedy Blvd. 1000 Jackson StreetSuite 1800 Suite 2400 Sarasota, Florida Suite 2800 Toledo, OhioCharlotte, North Carolina Columbus, Ohio 34236-6717 Tampa, Florida 43604-557328202-5013 43215-6104 941.366.6660 33602-5151 419.241.9000704.375.0057 614.463.9441 813.229.7600 www.slk-law.comThe Chair of the Trusts and Estates Department is responsible for the content of The Estate Planner. The material is intended foreducational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney for advice concerning your particular situation.While the material in The Estate Planner is based on information believed to be reliable, no warranty is given as to its accuracy or completeness. Conceptsare current as of the publication date and are subject to change without notice.IRS Circular 230 Notice: We are required to advise you no person or entity may use any tax advice in this communication or any attachment to (i) avoidany penalty under federal tax law or (ii) promote, market or recommend any purchase, investment or other action.