Tax Aspects of Decanting - A 2019 Update

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Decanting is the act of distributing the assets of an old trust to a new one with more favorable terms.  It provides an easy, inexpensive method of correcting errors or ambiguities, adapting a trust to changes in a settlor’s objectives or changes in a beneficiary’s circumstances, taking advantage of new planning opportunities or adding flexibility to a trust.

The TCJA greatly expanded decanting opportunities by doubling the gift and estate tax exemption(s).  For the next eight years we have a tremendous opportunity to help clients with a number of selective decanting opportunities including adding a GPA to obtain a step-up, decanting from a grantor to non-grantor trust, accelerating  grandchildren and future generations (under the law for four states), enhancing asset protection and more.

However, because trust decanting is a relatively new estate planning strategy, its tax consequences have not yet been clearly established.  This fast-paced course will cover some of the critical income tax, gift and estate tax, and GST tax issues including:

  • How the TCJA impacts decanting
  • Gain recognition by the transferor trust where the decant is from non-grantor trust to non-grantor trust, grantor trust to non-grantor trust and grantor trust to grantor trust
  • GST issues with grandfathered trusts, exempt trusts and nonexempt trusts
  • Whether a decanting distribution results in gain recognition by trust beneficiaries under IRC § 1001
  • Changing grantor trust status
  • Whether a distribution of property from one trust to another is treated as a distribution for purposes of IRC §§ 661 and 662
  • What impact does decanting have on the original trust's tax attributes?
  • Does a decanting power prevent a trust from qualifying as a QSST?
  • What are the "negative basis" implications?
  • Whether a beneficiary whose interests in a trust are reduced by decanting makes a taxable gift
  • Adding limited and general powers of appointment
  • Whether decanting results in gift tax for a trustee or a trust beneficiary
  • Whether a beneficiary whose interests in a trust are reduced by decanting makes an IRC § 2036 or § 2038 transfer
  • Changing distribution standards
  • Whether a GST grandfathered trust that receives decanted property loses its grandfathered trust status
  • Whether decanted property has the same GST inclusion ratio in the transferee trust that it had in the transferor trust


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Robert S. Keebler, CPA/PFS, MST, AEP (Distinguished) is a partner with Keebler & Associates, LLP and is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Accredited Estate Planners (Distinguished) award from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. He has been named by CPA Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners in the United States and one of the Top 40 Tax Advisors to Know During a Recession. Mr. Keebler is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning, and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration. Mr. Keebler frequently represents clients before the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the private letter ruling process and in estate, gift and income tax examinations and appeals. In the past 20 years, he has received over 250 favorable private letter rulings including several key rulings of """"first impression."""" Mr. Keebler is nationally recognized as an expert in estate and retirement planning and works collaboratively with other experts on academic reviews and papers, and client matters. Mr. Keebler is the author of over 75 articles and columns and editor, author, or co-author of many books and treatises on wealth transfer and taxation, including the Warren, Gorham & Lamont of RIA treatise Esperti, Peterson and Keebler/Irrevocable Trusts: Analysis with Forms. Mr. Keebler is the Chair of the AICPA's Advanced Estate Planning Conference. He is a featured columnist for CCH's Taxes Magazine - """"Family Tax Planning Forum,"""" Bob is also a contributing author to the American Bar Association's The ABA Practical Guide to Estate Planning. Robert.Keebler@KeeblerandAssociates.com

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