Gift tax exemption may be lower in 2013

This practice update outlines an estate planning strategy that may appeal to wealthy married clients who wish to use the $5 million federal gift tax exemption before it potentially reverts to a much lower level on January 1, 2013. The strategy involves each spouse creating and funding a trust with up to $5 million in assets for the benefit of the other spouse and, ultimately, the children or other heirs. During their joint lifetimes all of the assets are essentially available to provide for both spouses. When one spouse dies, the trust created for that spouse begins to benefit the children or other heirs. Meanwhile, the trust created by the deceased spouse continues to benefit the surviving spouse for the rest of his or her lifetime.

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