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(Posted to a couple boards)

Any comments about using these vehicles in estate planning?
(free registration required, I believe)


Among the fastest-growing strategies in estate planning in recent years have been a couple of exotic-sounding devices called the family limited partnership and the family limited-liability company….

Despite their daunting names, the strategies are fairly simple in concept. They allow a family to structure ownership of its assets in a form that resembles a conventional business arrangement: a limited partnership or limited-liability company. The difference here is that only family members own shares or partnership interests….

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Families can use the unified estate and gift tax credit, which allows any person to give or bequeath $1 million in assets without federal tax, to shelter such gifts. And with a 40 percent discount, about $1.60 in "true" value can be transferred for every taxable dollar. Thus the tax-free $1 million becomes a tax-free $1.6 million. For two parents the amounts can be doubled. (The unified credit is scheduled to rise to $1.5 million in January and $2 million in 2006.)

The strategies may also be able to use the $11,000 annual gift tax exclusion to transfer about $18,000 every year without tax.

Over the years, the IRS' principal line of attack on such transfers was to argue that they were not entitled to the discount or the discount was too high, but this has gotten a chilly reception from the courts.

Recently, though, the agency has challenged the form of the transfer and has had better luck.

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