Now’s the Time to Consider Short-term GRATs

Congress’s decision not to include a proposed minimum term for grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs) in the tax legislation passed back in January — combined with low interest rates — may make it an ideal time to add short-term GRATs to your estate planning arsenal.

A GRAT consists of an annuity interest, retained by you, and a remainder interest that passes to your beneficiaries at the end of the trust term. The remainder interest’s value for gift tax purposes is calculated using an IRS-prescribed growth rate. If the GRAT outperforms that rate — which is easier to do in a low-interest-rate environment — the GRAT can transfer substantial wealth gift-tax-free.

If you die during the trust term, however, the assets will be included in your taxable estate. By using a series of short-term GRATs (two years, for example), you can capture the upside of market volatility but minimize mortality risk.

If short-term GRATs might be right for you (consult Joe Mentrek at jmentrek@meadenmoore.com), consider deploying them soon in case lawmakers revive proposals that would reduce or eliminate their benefits.