You’re probably familiar with federal taxes, especially if you see the line item deduction on your check each pay period corresponding to ‘federal income tax’. Fewer people are aware of other types of taxes though, such as capital gains taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes, and perhaps the most overlooked: the generation-skipping transfer tax.
The federal generation-skipping transfer tax (GST) comes into effect when an individual transfers property to another individual at least two generations down from them. These transfers usually involve gifts given from grandparents to grandchildren and/or their descendants. However, the GST tax can also be triggered by gifts given to unrelated individuals (not including the individual’s spouse).
The GST tax is effective for gifts transferred both during the grandparents’ lifetimes and after their death through an inheritance. The recipients of gifts that trigger the GST tax are commonly referred to as “skip persons”.
The GST was first introduced by Congress in 1976 to eliminate the ability for wealthy people to skip over their children and transfer assets directly to grandchildren, thus avoiding inheritance taxes completely, and estate taxes for the first generation. The GST abides by the gift and estate tax exemption limits, but is a separate tax in itself that applies in correspondence and in addition to any present gift and estate taxes.
Typically, the GST tax comes into effect when the amount transferred to “skip persons” is greater than $12.06 million (a transferor’s lifetime GST tax exemption amount allotted for 2022). The lifetime exemption amount consists of all gifts made throughout the transferor’s lifetime, as well as transfers made at death in the form of wills or trusts.
For instance, if a grandparent gifts $50,000 to each of their 6 grandchildren in 2022, then $300,000 is counted against their lifetime exemption allotment of $12.06 million. If this gift amount is exceeded (both during life & death), a flat 40 percent tax is applied to the overage.
If the child of a grandparent passes away before them, there is an exception to the GST tax. In the case that assets are transferred to a grandchild whose parent has already passed away, the GST tax is not applied. This would not be considered generation skipping, since the grandchild essentially assumes the position of the parent who passed away, facilitating an adjacent generation transfer.
The GST tax also doesn’t apply to medical care or tuition payments transferred directly to a designated institution. In this case, a grandparent could financially assist with a grandchild’s college tuition or medical bills if they give the money directly to the college or hospital.
The vast majority of us do not have to worry about the GST tax structure due to the high lifetime transfer amount of $12.06 million. Even so, it’s smart to be aware of the GST tax, and that the lifetime transfer amount is set to be adjusted to $5 million (to account for inflation) in the year 2026.
Proposals to lower the exemption amount are regularly introduced to Congress. That means the GST tax lifetime amount could change at a moment’s notice. Knowledge of the GST tax is vital if you or a loved one plans to transfer assets to grandchildren.
Additionally, one should keep in mind that, although married couples are essentially granted double the exemption amount, the exemption rules to the GST tax are ‘use or lose it’. It does not work in the same way as the estate tax, where a spouse who passes away can have their unused amount distributed to the surviving spouse. Any unused GST tax lifetime exemption amount evaporates at the time of the first spouse’s death.
This is not an exhaustive explanation of the generation-skipping transfer tax, and you will likely have questions based on your unique situation. The GST is a challenging subject, and few have the experience navigating the laws surrounding it than Anderson, Dorn, & Rader. Our team can assist with any questions if you plan to transfer a property amount sufficient to trigger the GST tax. The best outcome is one that satisfies your desire to pass wealth down to the next generation, so when you’d like to start the conversation on transferring your assets, contact Anderson, Dorn, & Rader: Reno’s trusted estate-planning team.
The elder law and estate planning attorneys here at Anderson, Dorn, and Rader assist people that are planning ahead to address the eventualities of aging. We also work with concerned family members, and these collaborative efforts are often the most fruitful. Washoe County is a great place to live for many different reasons, with a seasonal climate, a vibrant economy, beautiful nature nearby, and a caring community. That final piece is key, and there are in fact many resources available for elders in our area.
Washoe County Senior Services is a fantastic hub that you can tap into if you would like to gain an understanding of the various different resources that can solve problems and enhance your life. This entity has been around for nearly 40 years at this point, and they are not slowing down anytime soon. Let’s look at a couple of the issues that they help people address on a daily basis.
As senior citizens reach an advanced age, they often lose loved ones along the way. Of course, they are no longer working in most instances, so they don't have regular interactions with coworkers. As a result, loneliness can set in, and the familiarity that their homes provide can be extremely important to them.
At the same time, the majority of elders will someday need living assistance. This often results in the need for residence in an assisted living community or a nursing home. Although these facilities provide the needed care and the appropriate surroundings, having to leave your home after you have already lost so much can be challenging to say the least.
The good news is that you have options in many instances. If you were to need living assistance, you could potentially modify your home to accommodate your physical limitations. This is going to come with somewhat of a price tag, but staying in an assisted living community can be extraordinarily expensive. So relatively speaking, you could be saving money in the long run by modifying your place of residence.
As for assistance with your day-to-day needs, there are home health aides and homemaker/companions that can be brought in at a price that is affordable considering the high cost of full-time long-term care. Living assistance is just one of the things to consider when you are planning for the future. To formulate a long-term plan that prepares you for all the eventualities of aging, don't hesitate to take action and arrange for a consultation with our firm.
You have to consider all the possibilities when you are serious about planning for the latter portion of your life. Not all of these are especially pleasing to think about, but challenging situations are all the worse if you make no preparations in advance. With this in mind, you would do well to understand the value of incapacity planning, especially in light of how common dementia is among our nation's elders.
The leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease. While you have certainly heard of this disease, you may not be aware of how widespread it has become. The Alzheimer's Association tells us that some 40 percent of people who are 85 years of age and older are suffering from the disease. Lifespans are getting longer, and in fact, the portion of the population that is 85 and older is growing faster than any other age demographic subset.
When you put it all together you see that it is becoming increasingly likely that you will live into your mid-to-late 80s and beyond. If you do, Alzheimer's induced dementia is a very real possibility. If you make no plans in advance to appoint representatives to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make them on your own, you could become a ward of the state. A court-appointed guardian would handle your affairs, and you may have no input into who would serve this role.
You can circumvent the above possibility by planning ahead intelligently. Through the execution of durable powers of attorney, you can appoint individuals of your choosing to make your decisions for you should you become incapacitated. There are also local resources that can assist Alzheimer’s patients and their families, and they are memory care centers in the area. You can explore the possibilities if you contact the good folks at Washoe County Senior Services.
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