Vanilla Estate Planing...Boring

but Throwing a Tax-Saving Wealth-Building Party with the Magnificent Seven...Exciting!

Over 90% of contacts with readers of this column—via phone, fax, mail, courier or e-mail—are specific questions (or concerns) involving the “Magnificent Seven” (M7). What are the M7?… Actually seven separate strategies designed to answer the questions and at the same time to save huge amounts of estate tax or create huge amounts of wealth (usually tax-free). Using just one M7 is fun… Two or more is party time.

Okay, let’s visit with each M7 partygoer: first the specific questions, then the answer and the strategy.

Note: Each M7 you are about to meet represents a most popular strategy according to readers of my column.

M7-#1. “How can I get my family business out of my estate, transfer it to my kids yet keep control for life?” Create voting and non-voting stock, then transfer the non-voting stock to your business kids. Also use these strategies: a recapitalization to create the non-voting stock and an intentionally defective trust to transfer the stock. The voting stock, which you keep, maintains your control. All the strategies are tax-free: to you, your kids and Success Co.

M7-#2. “How can I earn large returns every year without risk?” Invest in senior settlements/transferable insurance policies (TIPs). The average TIP rate of return per year is in the 12% to 14% range, available from a 14-year old company; which is public (on the NASDAQ). Minimum investment is $50,000 for qualified investors.

M7-#3. “How can I avoid the double tax (income and estate) that hits all qualified plans (like an IRA, 401(k) profit-sharing)?” Use a Subtrust. It’s true: The tax collector can get up to 73% of your plan funds (that’s $730,000 per $1 million). Your family gets only $270,000. A subtrust allows you to use plan funds to buy life insurance (usually second-to-die). One reader turned $240,000 into $4.5 million of tax-free life insurance.

M7-#4. “How do I know if my estate plan is done and done right?” Easy. You must be able to answer ‘Yes’ to both of these questions: (1) Do you have and will you continue to have absolute control of your business and other assets? And (2) Will all of your wealth pass intact—every penny of it—to your family when you die. “All” means if you, for example are worth $6 million, the entire $6 million to your family. If you can’t answer ‘Yes’ to these two questions, get a second opinion from an independent professional.

M7-#5. “I have significant excess cash or cash-like assets. I’m conservative. Hate risk. Are there any tax-advantaged investments for me?” Yes, conservative investment life insurance (CILI) that is really a conservation investment. The insurance company agrees to guarantee you that upon your death your heirs will receive the sum of the following: (1) All premiums you paid (say you paid $20,000 per year for 20 years. Your heirs will get back the entire $400,000), plus (2) a guaranteed rate of return on all premiums paid (usually around 3%), plus (3) the death benefit as a bonus (say $1 million, but could be more or less depending on your age and health). Get a personal quote. You’ll be delighted. And oh, yes, all earnings and the death benefit (all three items) are tax-free.

M7-#6. “Is there a way to reduce the value of my business for tax purposes?” Absolutely! Take advantage of the three discounts allowed by the tax law: (1) lack of marketability, (2) minority interest and (3) non-voting stock is worth less than voting stock. Result, a $2 million business after discounts, is worth, (for tax purposes) in the $1.1 million to $1.2 million range.

M7-#7. “Is there any way to finance the cost of life insurance to significantly reduce the out-of-pocket cost of the insurance?” Yes, it’s called premium financing. The strategy is easiest to explain by example. A 60-year old reader got $5 million of insurance with a total cost (to be paid over his life) of $368,000. A 56-year old husband with a 56-year old wife bought $5 million with a total projected outlay of only $79,000. You must be worth a minimum of $5 million and be 65 years young or younger.

Of course, you want more information or have questions, here’s what to do… Contact us with the following: (1) identify the M7 strategy you want to learn about; (2) your name, address and all phone numbers where you can be reached; (3) your birthday and same for other family members if insurance is involved; (4) a short statement of your specific facts; (5) fax to (847-674-5299) or e-mail me with “M-7 query” in the subject line.