Under IRC Sections 2503(e) (concerning gift taxes) and 2611(b)(1) (concerning generation skipping transfer (“GST”) taxes) (hereafter the “IRC exclusion provisions”) all “qualified transfers” for tuition or medical expenses are excluded from both gift and GST taxes – if they are paid directly to the educational institution or to the medical care provider. High net worth individuals commonly use IRC Section 2503(c) as a wealth transfer strategy. By paying their grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s tuition and medical bills, they are removing assets from their estate, both gift and GST tax free. Moreover, there are no limitations as to the amount that can be paid for such expenses. However, this strategy only works while the grandparents are alive.
For those grandparents who wish to pay for their descendants’ education and medical bills while transferring significant assets out of their estates, a health and education exclusion trust, or “HEET”, should be established. The grandparents can set up an inter vivos HEET using their $13,000 / $26,000 annual gift tax exclusion (for 2010), their $1,000,000 / $2,000,000 gift tax exemption, or by naming the HEET as the remainder beneficiary of a zeroed-out grantor retained annuity trust or a zeroed-out charitable lead annuity trust (see below). Alternatively, a testamentary HEET can be established in the grandparent’s Will or Living Trust and funded at death. An inter vivos HEET can be an irrevocable life insurance trust (“ILIT”) drafted as a HEET. Assets used to fund a testamentary HEET (unless an ILIT is used) would be subject to estate taxes, but not the GST tax. However, by creating and funding an inter vivos HEET, the after-tax income and appreciation on the assets gifted to the HEET are removed from the grandparents’ estate.
A key benefit of a HEET is that it gets around the onerous GST tax. The GST tax is 45% on the amount of a grandparent’s gift (inter vivos or testamentary) to grandchildren (or more remote descendants) that exceeds (in 2009) $3,500,000, or $7,000,000 for married grandparents. To avoid the GST tax, the HEET must pay the educational or medical expenses directly to the provider, and the HEET must have a charity as a co-beneficiary. If the grandchildren (or more remote descendants) are the only beneficiaries of the HEET, transfers to it would be subject to the GST tax. Thus, a HEET is best suited for grandparents who have estates in excess of the $3,500,000 / $7,000,000 GST exemption and who have charitable goals iqos dubai.
A generation skipping transfer can occur in one of three ways: 1) a direct skip; 2) a taxable distribution; and 3) a taxable termination. The GST tax is calculated by multiplying the highest estate tax rate by the amount of the direct skip, taxable distribution, or taxable termination.
A transfer made directly to a skip person (i.e., grandchild), either during lifetime or at death, is a “direct skip.” A transfer made to a trust in which all beneficiaries are “skip persons” is also a direct skip. However, because a HEET has a non-skip beneficiary (the charity), a transfer to a HEET is not a direct skip.