2011 federal law taxes estates exceeding $1 million for an individual or $2 million for a married couple at as much as 55 percent. Any gift to an individual of more than $13,000 in any given year may also be taxed as much as 45 percent with the exception of a $1 million lifetime exclusion per donor. For any individual concerned about these tax consequences, intra-family loans can be used for estate planning purposes, since any realized gains will be treated as free of all estate and gift taxes.
During our preliminary consultation with all of our estate planning clients, our firm will determine if our client is subject to the estate tax and if they can use intra-family loans to reduce the value of their estates. The appreciation of any investment made with the loan accrues outside of our client’s estate, as long as it is above the IRS rate. Rates for intra-family loans have declined as much as 53 percent since 2008. Since the interest rates are low and most asset values -such as stocks and real estate- are depressed, there is a much greater possibility that any investments purchased with an intra-family loan in 2010 will appreciate more than the loan’s cost.
The rate for a three year intra-family loan made in January 2010 is currently 0.57 percent. The rate is 2.45 percent for a loan of three years to nine years and 4.11 percent for a loan of nine years or more. These rates compare favorably with an average rate of 10.55 percent for a personal bank loan and 12.51 percent for a credit-union loan.
Parents can loan their children money to buy a business and the children can repay the loan using profits from the firm. Any future appreciation or income derived from the business beyond the loan amount are then considered part of the children’s estate and the parents’ estate remains protected. Moreover, any amount above the 1.65 interest rate will pass to the children free of all estate and gift taxes.
Family members should be aware the loans must be repaid in full with interest at the rate specified by the IRS. If the borrower doesn’t repay, it may be considered a gift subject to the gift tax.