Historically Low AFR For October

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The IRS recently released the Applicable Federal Rate, or “AFR,” for October, 2011.  The AFR is a key interest rate used in connection with a number of the more sophisticated estate planning techniques, such as grantor retained annuity trusts (“GRATs”), sales to intentionally defective grantor trusts, and qualified personal residence interest trusts (“QPRITs”).

The mid-term AFR for October is 1.4%, which is historically low.  This means that GRATs, sales to grantor trusts, and intra-family loans are even more attractive in October because the amount that is required to be paid back to the donor under these techniques is relatively lower due to the extremely low interest rate.

On the other hand, techniques in which the value of the gift is dependent upon the value of the income interest retained by the grantor, such as QPRITs or charitable remainder annuity trusts (“CRATs”), are not as attractive.  For these techniques, the low interest rate leads to a lower value for the retained interest and a higher value for the remainder interest, thereby resulting in a larger taxable gift when the technique is implemented.

With the increased lifetime gift exclusion ($5 million in 2011 and 2012) and the possibility that the use of GRATs may be restricted in the future, now may be the time to explore some of the estate planning approaches that have been enhanced by historically low interest rates.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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