Short Term Increase in Gift Tax Exemption Unlocks Succession Options

The 2010 Tax act raised the gift tax exemption to $5 million. This is the amount a person can give away during his or her lifetime without incurring a gift tax – up from $1 million, the threshold for many years. With the lid off, this means senior owners can transfer large amounts of equity to successors free of gift tax, at least for the next two years. For many though, it’s still important to think about ways to “extract equity” or monetize the family business asset. There are several approaches from leasing real estate to the business, salary continuation plans, increased retirement and pension plans and the use of advanced trust techniques such as “Defective” trusts or Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (SLATs) to name a few. This WSJ article highlights some of the opportunities.