Estate Planning Articles

Generation Skipping Trusts

by Retirement Tips

Jan 25, 2024

 A generation-skipping trust (GST) is established for a beneficiary at least 37 ½ years younger than the grantor. The beneficiary can be any person, except a spouse or ex-spouse, as long as they meet the age requirement. 

Are generation-skipping trusts revocable or irrevocable?

Generation-skipping trusts are irrevocable trusts, meaning they can’t be changed once established without the permission of their beneficiaries. The grantor of an irrevocable trust gives up ownership of the assets once they are placed in the trust. 

Who might benefit from a generation-skipping trust?

A generation-skipping trust passes assets directly to your grandchildren. It can also be another beneficiary at least 37 ½ years younger than you). Consider a generation-skipping trust if you possess substantial assets and a beneficiary within the specified age range. It is one tool to reduce how much federal estate tax your estate could be subject to. 

How do the estate tax savings work?

The main benefit of passing assets directly to your grandchildren instead of having them pass through your direct children is that a taxable transfer event is eliminated from the process. 

If you pass your estate directly to your child and they then pass it to their child (your grandchild), the estate tax is levied twice per transfer. Using a generation-skipping trust allows your estate to avoid this layer of estate taxation. 

A generation-skipping trust can help your heirs save money on the federal estate tax and on the dozen states (plus Washington, D.C.) that also have their own estate taxes. Some match the federal exemption ($11.7 million in 2021), and others start at less than $1 million. 

Read more: Four Ways to Give Your Home to Your Favorite Child

Are there other benefits of a generation-skipping trust? 

If you use a generation-skipping trust, your children won’t pay taxes on any of the assets in the trust since they will never take possession of it. However, depending on how its set up, a generation-skipping trust may still allow your children earn income on the assets inside the trust. Effectively, the trust can be structured to provide for multiple generations of your family. 

Be mindful of generation-skipping transfer taxes.

It’s important to note that the 40% generation-skipping transfer tax still applies to assets distributed from a generation-skipping trust if they are valued at more than the current federal estate and gift tax exemption threshold (for 2023, this is $12.92 million per individual).  

State inheritance or estate taxes still also apply to trust distributions. 

Don’t Try to Set Up a Trust On Your Own

In summary, a generation-skipping trust could be a great tool for you if you have a large estate and you have family or friends who are at least 37 ½ years your junior to whom you’d like to leave assets. But a generation-skipping trust isn’t something you can set up without guidance. These are complex estate planning vehicles, and you’ll need help setting it up with someone with experience. 

If you have questions about a generation-skipping trust or want to know more about estate and tax planning, click here to schedule a free meeting with a financial advisor. 

Request a no-cost, no-obligation advisor consultation today!

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Retirement Tips

Retirement Tips is an educational blog dedicated to helping workers and retirees become more knowledgeable about retirement and financial planning.

We want to help readers learn more about their retirement investing options, programs like Medicare and Social Security, and difficult-but-important topics like long-term care and estate planning.

Our goal is to help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your retirement and to make it easier for you to connect with an advisor in your area should you need professional financial advice.

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