What is Spousal Lifetime Assess Trust

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Estate Planning on Tuesday October 18, 2022.

The Spousal Lifetime Assess Trust (SLAT) is a common strategy for tax savings that is used by married couples. The spousal lifetime access trust is an irreversible trust that is created by one spouse to benefit another spouse. The donor spouse makes a gift to the SLAT by using their gift tax exemption and then the spouse who will benefit is named as the beneficiary.

The SLAT offers married couples a way to take advantage of the federal lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion whilst keeping restricted access. It is possible for either one spouse to fund the SLAT for another spouse or each spouse may opt to fund the SLAT.

SLAT 101

It is vital to remember that the trust is irrevocable and this means that when contributing spouse transfers assets to the SLAT, they are forever parting with the use of those assets and any income from it.

However, the contributing spouse can only gain benefits from the funds and property given to the trust if the benefactor of the trust is still legally wedded to the donor. This is subject to the terms of the SLAT, the spouse who is to benefit from the SLAT could receive distributions of income from the SLAT, which allows the benefactor spouse together with the donor spouse indirectly, to access the assets if they needed to.

Advantages and disadvantages of SLAT

An advantage of SLAT is that it enables the contributing spouse to donate up to their available exemption amount without gift tax. If the contributing spouse dies, the value of the assets in SLAT will not be subjected to federal estate tax since it is excluded from the contributing spouse’s gross estate because the SLAT is funded with a gift made during the contributing spouse’s lifetime.

The downside to a SLAT is that if the benefactor of the trust dies, then that would mean that the donor of the trust will no longer have indirect access to the SLAT. The donor of the trust will have no choice but to terminate the trust. They can either choose to distribute it or continue it for the donor’s children or perhaps other family members.

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