A Win-Win for Year-End Gifts

Updated: Dec 9, 2019


With the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan your year-end gifts as it relates to your longer term estate plan. This year provides unique gifting opportunities -- some helpful things to understand are: (1) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 gives each person an additional $5,710,000 in gifting capacity, and (2) life insurance can provide unique leverage on those gifts to benefit your heirs for generations.

For larger estates, this is an excellent time to evaluate making additional gifts to transfer assets outside of your taxable estate. Although the current estate tax laws have increased the estate tax exemption to $11,200,000 per person, this increase is only in place until December of 2025.

What does this mean for you?

Unless you die within the next 7 years or before the estate tax law is changed, the best way to take advantage of the additional $5,710,000 is to make gifts today. A gift today locks in the temporary exemption increase for your estate.

* Indexed for inflation after 2018

How does life insurance leverage your gift?

Life insurance is a unique asset class for its tax benefits and mortality (probability of death) being uncorrelated to interest rates and equity markets. Life insurance death benefits are paid income tax-free, and when using guaranteed products, the only variance in actual realized returns will be the timing of mortality. Incorporating life insurance can improve overall estate asset allocation by providing attractive risk-adjusted returns, lower volatility, and non-correlation to other asset classes.

Example: Leveraged Gifts with Life Insurance

Let's say you make a $5,000,000 one-time gift to a trust owned outside of your taxable estate for the benefit of your children and grand-children. The trust receives $5,000,000 and it is invested in a diversified managed portfolio of investments. The target minimum after-tax earnings assumption is 4% which will generate $200,000 each year to be used for life insurance premiums.

The Trust acquires life insurance insuring one or two lives and uses the Managed Portfolio net earnings to pay for annual life insurance premiums. Below are hypothetical examples of the leverage life insurance can create on a one-time $5,000,000 gift.

Policy Insuring One (1) Life: Male, Preferred Non-Smoker Underwriting

Policy Insuring Two (2) Lives: Male & Female, Preferred Non-Smoker Underwriting

1 Assumes a Managed Portfolio in the trust with the $5,000,000 gift earns 4% net after-tax to provide the required $200,000 cash flow to fund the life insurance premiums - the internal rate of return (IRR) measures life insurance premium outflow against the death benefit based on various death ages. For the (Pre-Tax) equivalent IRR, it assumes a 40% tax rate.

Contact us today to learn more about how to take advantage of this unique opportunity to leverage the additional exemption now available.

The above analysis is based on the economic results for a hypothetical client which is based on assumptions impacting results which may not be guaranteed. The economics associated with each individual client are unique and impacted by the insurance product acquired, the performance of the life insurance policy, timing of premium payments, medical underwriting for the insured(s), and the actual life expectancy of the insured(s). The sample analysis is not intended to be opinion or advice on legal, tax, accounting or investment matters. Private counsel should be consulted prior to application of this general information to specific situations.

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