Transfer tax planning and audit representation

Whether or not you consider yourself to be wealthy, you should explore if transfer tax planning as a component of your estate plan. Transfer tax planning involves using various tax-favored techniques to transfer wealth to your intended beneficiaries during your lifetime and at death. “Transfer tax” refers primarily to the federal estate and gift tax system.

When your goal is to endow your spouse, children or others with wealth during your lifetime or at death, you have much to consider – including a complex maze of federal and state tax laws. We can help you assess how income taxes, estate and gift taxes, and generation-skipping taxes affect your plans for wealth transfer and help you minimize or eliminate those taxes.

We will work with you in designing strategies to maximize use of tax benefits you are entitled to under federal tax law. These benefits include the federal gift tax annual exclusion and your estate and gift tax exemption. In designing strategies, we also evaluate income tax consequences and minimize, where possible, the potential capital gains tax that your beneficiaries may pay when they sell what you have given to them.

When you transfer wealth during your lifetime, federal law may require you to file a gift tax return even when no tax is due. We prepare gift tax returns for our clients and also provide advice to other tax preparers concerning the preparation of such returns.

After death, federal law may require your estate to file an estate tax return. Even if such a return is not required, filing one can carry over your remaining unused exemption to a surviving spouse. We help your executor or other personal representative determine whether an estate tax return is required or advisable. We have substantial experience in preparing such returns and in giving legal advice to other tax preparers concerning the preparation of such returns.

Audits of gift tax returns and estate tax returns are unfortunately a fact of life and of death. If you or your estate is audited, we guide you or your personal representative through the audit process and advocate vigorously for a positive resolution.

Some of our specific transfer tax planning and audit services include:

  • Coordinating your personal non-tax goals and the factors unique to your family with tax planning designed to minimize federal estate and gift taxes.
  • Preparation of revocable trust documents that include tax planning components to maximize use of federal estate tax exemption (so-called A/B Trusts).
  • Preparation and implementation of irrevocable trusts.
    • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts 
    • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts 
    • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts 
    • Spousal Access Trusts 
    • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
  • Analysis and advice concerning alternatives for beneficiary designations on qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and 403(b) plans.
  • Analysis and advice concerning beneficiary designations on non-qualified retirement benefits, such as stock appreciation rights, restricted stock and non-qualified stock options.
  • Design and implementation of corporate succession plans for transferring closely-held business interests.
  • Gift tax return preparation.
  • Estate tax return preparation, including returns filed to carry over the first deceased spouse’s unused exemption.
  • Generation-skipping planning, including return preparation and implementation of tax elections.
  • Representation and advocacy in income, gift and estate tax audits.


Bernard L. Karr
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