If you're like most well-to-do people, one of your main financial objectives is to transfer wealth to your heirs with a minimum of tax erosion. Several estate planning techniques could help you move closer to that elusive goal. Consider these five opportunities:
1. Lifetime gifts. One of the simplest wealth transfer methods also can be one of the most effective. By giving away property to other family members during your lifetime, you remove those assets from your taxable estate. If you plan carefully, you can make direct gifts without incurring any gift tax liability. And you also may be able to leave assets to your heirs under favorable tax conditions.
2. Intra-family loans. Usually, you can lend up to $10,000 to a child or another relative with no strings attached—and no questions asked by the IRS. You don't even have to charge interest. However, if the borrowed amount exceeds $10,000 and you don't charge a reasonable interest rate, the IRS will consider the amount you didn't charge as interest income to you. One exception is that on loans of $100,000 or less, the amount of interest you're treated as receiving annually for tax purposes is limited to the child's net investment income for the year.