Save Taxes – Basics of an Irrevocable Life Insurance Dynasty Trust

For US persons, an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) is arguably the most efficient structure for integrating tax-free investment growth, wealth transfer and asset protection. An ILIT comprises two main parts: (1) an irrevocable trust; and (2) a life insurance policy owned by the trust. An international (or offshore) ILIT is a trust governed by the law of a foreign jurisdiction that owns foreign-based life insurance. An offshore ILIT is better than a domestic ILIT because it is more flexible and less expensive. Regarding US tax laws, a properly designed international ILIT is treated virtually the same as a domestic ILIT.An ILIT becomes a dynasty trust (or GST trust) when the trust’s settlor (or grantor, the person who establishes and funds the trust) applies his lifetime exemption for the generation skipping transfer tax (GSTT) to trust contributions. Once a dynasty trust is properly funded by applying the settlor’s lifetime exemptions for gift, estate and GST taxes, all distributions to beneficiaries will be free of gift and estate taxes for the duration of the trust, even perpetually. The individual unified gift and estate tax exemption and the GSTT exemption are both $5 million ($10 million for a married couple) during 2011 and 2012, which are the highest amounts in decades.Under the US tax code, no income or capital gains taxes are due on life insurance investment growth, and no income tax is due when policy proceeds are paid to an insurance beneficiary upon death of the insured. When a dynasty trust purchases and owns the life insurance policy and is named as the insurance beneficiary, no estate tax or generation skipping transfer taxes are due. In other words, assets can grow and be enjoyed by trust beneficiaries completely tax-free forever. Depending on how a trust is designed, a portion of trust assets can be invested in a new life insurance policy each generation to continue the cycle.Private placement life insurance (PPLI) is privately negotiated between an insurance carrier and the insurance purchaser (e.g., a dynasty ILIT). Private placement life insurance is also known as variable universal life insurance. The policy funds are invested in a separately managed account, separate from the general funds of the insurance company, and may include stocks, hedge funds, and other high-growth and/or tax-inefficient investment vehicles. Offshore (foreign) private placement life insurance has several advantages over domestic life insurance. In-kind premium payments (e.g., stock shares) are allowed, whereas domestic policies require cash. There are few restrictions on policy investments, while state regulations restrict a domestic policy’s investments. The minimum premium commitment of foreign policies typically is US$1 million. Domestic carriers demand a minimum commitment of $5 million to $20 million. Also, offshore carriers allow policy investments to be managed by an independent investment advisor suggested by the policy owner. Finally, offshore policy costs are lower than domestic costs. An election under IRC § 953(d) by a foreign insurance carrier avoids imposition of US withholding tax on insurance policy income and gains.Whether domestic or offshore, PPLI must satisfy the definition of life insurance according to IRC § 7702 to qualify for the tax benefits. Also, key investment control (IRC § 817(g)) and diversification (IRC § 851(b)) rules must be observed. When policy premiums are paid in over four or five years as provided in IRC § 7702A(b), the policy is a non-MEC policy from which policy loans can be made. If policy loans are not important during the term of the policy, then a single up-front premium payment into a MEC policy is preferable because of tax-free compounding.An offshore ILIT provides much greater protection of trust assets against creditors of both settlor and beneficiaries. Courts in the US have no jurisdiction outside of the US, and enforcement of US court judgments against offshore trust assets is virtually impossible. Although all offshore jurisdictions have laws against fraudulent transfers, they are more limited than in the United States. In any case, an offshore ILIT is necessary to purchase offshore life insurance because foreign life insurance companies are not allowed to market and sell policies directly to US residents. An international trust, however, is a non-resident and is eligible to purchase life insurance from an offshore insurance carrier.An international ILIT may be self-settled, that is, the settlor of the trust may be a beneficiary without exposing trust assets to the settlor’s creditors. In contrast, in the United States, the general rule is that self-settled trusts are not honored for asset protection purposes.In Private Letter Ruling (PLR) 200944002, the IRS ruled that assets in a discretionary asset protection trust were not includable in the grantor’s (settlor’s) gross estate even though the grantor was a beneficiary of the trust. The trustee of a discretionary trust uses his discretion in making distributions to beneficiaries consistent with trust provisions. Previously, it was questionable whether a settlor could be beneficiary of an ILIT without jeopardizing favorable tax treatment upon his death. The new ruling gives some assurance to a US taxpayer who wants to be a beneficiary of a self-settled, irrevocable, discretionary asset-protection trust that is not subject to estate and GST tax. As a result, the trustee can (at the trustee’s discretion) withdraw principal from the PPLI or take a tax-free loan from the policy’s cash value and distribute it tax-free to the settlor, as well as to other beneficiaries. In other words, a settlor need not sacrifice all enjoyment of ILIT benefits in order to achieve preferred tax treatment.An offshore ILIT is designed to qualify under IRS rules as a domestic trust during normal times and as a foreign trust in case of domestic legal threats to its assets. The offshore ILIT is formally governed by the laws of a foreign jurisdiction and has at least one resident foreign trustee there. As a “domestic” trust under IRS rules, the trust also has a domestic trustee who controls the trust during normal times. If a domestic legal threat arises, control of the trust shifts to the foreign trustee, outside the jurisdiction of US courts, and the trust becomes a “foreign” trust for tax purposes. A domestic trust “protector” having negative (or veto) powers may be appointed to provide limited control over trustee decisions. An international ILIT protects trust assets against unforeseen lawsuits, bankruptcy and divorce.The objective of PPLI is to minimize life insurance costs and to maximize investment growth. The life insurance policy acts as a “wrapper” around investments so that they qualify for favorable tax treatment. Nevertheless, PPLI still provides a valuable life insurance benefit in case of an unexpected early death of the insured.Initial costs of setting up an ILIT are high, but are recouped after a few years of tax-free investment growth. Initial legal and accounting fees are typically in a range of $25,000 to $50,000. Premium “loading” charges are in a range of about 3% to 5% of premiums paid into offshore PPLI (compared to 8 – 10% in domestic PPLI). Annually recurring charges depend on policy value and vary widely among PPLI carriers, so careful comparison shopping is advised. For example, annual asset charges should be in a range of about 40 to 150 basis points (0.4% to 1.5%) of the policy’s cash value. The annual cost of insurance is not substantial and declines over time. Annual costs for maintaining an offshore trust are several thousand dollars. Finally, investment manager fees are paid regularly out of policy funds.Cash may be contributed to the ILIT, which then purchases PPLI. If asset protection of vulnerable fixed assets in the US is a concern, then equity stripping can be used to generate cash, which is then contributed to the offshore ILIT. Of course, stocks and bonds and other assets may also be contributed to the ILIT and used for investing in PPLI. Various value-freezing and valuation discounting techniques can be used to leverage the GSTT exemption.An offshore “frozen cash value” policy is a variation of PPLI governed by IRC § 7702(g). The minimum premium commitment is about $250,000. During the life of the insured, the cash surrender value is fixed at the sum of the premiums paid. Withdrawals up to the amount of the paid-in premiums are tax-free, but cash value in excess of the premium amounts is inaccessible until after death of the insured.Another alternative investment for an ILIT is a deferred variable annuity (DVA). There is no cost of insurance, so investment growth is faster. Tax on appreciation is deferred, but DVA distributions are taxed as income.Generally, for public policy reasons and because the insurance industry possesses strong political influence, life insurance has long enjoyed favorable tax treatment. Over the past two decades, numerous IRS rulings have clarified the tax treatment of PPLI and irrevocable discretionary trusts. At the same time, strong, new asset protection laws and reliable service providers in numerous foreign jurisdictions have enabled safe, efficient and flexible management of international trusts and insurance products. As a result, an international irrevocable, discretionary trust owning PPLI can provide tax-free growth of a global, variable investment portfolio managed by a trusted financial adviser in full compliance with US tax laws. At the discretion of the trustee, trust assets (including tax-free insurance policy loans and withdrawals) are available to the settlor during his lifetime. Upon death of the insured, policy proceeds are paid tax-free to the trust. Thus, a well-managed life insurance dynasty trust perpetually secures the financial well being of settlor, spouse, children and their descendants.Warning & Disclaimer: This is not legal advice.Copyright 2011 – Thomas Swenson

The World’s Best Brand – Yours!

Those of us who make our living in sales and marketing appreciate the value of branding. Whether it is the brand of the products we sell or the company we represent, we know full well that a recognised, consistent, and respected brand will give us a head start. As we march down our career path, we may get to represent a number of different brands along the way, but the one that means the most, the one that never leaves our side, is the most important brand in the world – our very own reputation.

Yet too often, this personal trademark of ours, our very own intellectual property, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. To put it into perspective in my sales training workshops, I generally break the issue of branding into three components – product, company, and salesperson. Let’s start with the product:

Product Brand

When we are selling products and services, we readily accept that the brand plays an enormous part, particularly when quality, reliability, and support for the product is an issue. Knowledge of the supplier and a show of branding support from us tend to build buyer confidence, and can be the catalyst in their purchase decision. So whenever we depend on the reputation of our branded suppliers to lend credibility to our selling effort, particularly to attract a pricing premium, it is almost unforgivable not to become an absolute authority on them and to proudly and confidently present ourselves as their advocate. After all, they have already spent a fortune to do the ‘pull’ marketing for us, so the ‘push’ on our part is comparatively easier.

Company Brand

On the other hand, I regularly work with some of the larger retail buyers. It is no secret that brand status is top of mind for them, too, when they sit down at the negotiating table with their supplier salespeople. Their aim is to sublimely take a position of authority in their negotiations by knowing more about their supplier’s product, operations, and competitors than even the supplier salespeople themselves, then pitting it against the size and reputation of their own retail brand. This makes for an interesting dogfight, and that old expression, ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog’ comes to mind.

For instance, consumer awareness – product brand versus retail brand – can be a significant factor in determining the rules of engagement, and is the reason why so many small retailers gravitate to branded buying groups and franchise chains to leverage their buying power. For example, if we are a multi-national supplier selling into a small local retailer, or a large retailer buying from a fringe supplier, we will have a fair bit of clout.

From the seller side, this is known as a Unique Selling Proposition (‘USP’), a prime reason why the buyer must consider our offer. From the buyer side, this is often referred to as a Unique Buying Position (‘UBP’), a combination of distribution advantages which positions us as a preferred outlet for the suppliers’ products. But beware the negative side – a danger that we rely too much on this big brand ‘clout’ factor. I have detected this indifferent attitude in some of my trainees, where too much is taken for granted as they lean on their market presence to buffer their proposition.

But it’s not all one-way traffic. Being the underdog usually provides a natural stimulus, and many of my small business trainees, manage to use the ‘size versus flexibility’ advantage they usually hold over their ‘big brother’ negotiating partners to gain an edge. It’s a case of dynamics over mass, meaning that even the combination of product and company brand is not necessarily the ‘be all and end all’. Not surprisingly, whether we happen to be the David or the Goliath in this battle, it will inevitably be our ability, dedication, and reputation – our very own personal brand – which must address the balance. All too often, it is the injection of this third brand into the equation which becomes the tie-breaker!

Personal Brand

Despite this, it pains me though, to find that many of my sales trainees don’t give the same attention to the third part of the branding mix – their personal proposition. Even some of the most experienced of them have the odd relapse, failing to keep in mind that, as well playing a team role in promoting their employer’s brand day-by-day, they remain the sole caretaker of their very own personal brand year-by-year.

Yes, our reputation follows us throughout our lives, wherever we go, whatever we do, and with whomever we share it. We owe it to ourselves to relentlessly build, proudly cherish, and selfishly protect this individual brand of ours. We mustn’t overlook the fact too, that our personal stature enjoys the ultimate copyright protection. Nobody else can borrow it or take it from us. There will be times when others will influence it, even try to tarnish it, but in reality, it is we – and only we – who have the choice, and the right, to use or abuse this exclusive trademark of ours.

There is no escaping reality here. Remaining consistent and blemish-free can be a hard call, but it comes with the territory. Our greatest asset as a career salesperson is our reputation, based on how we present ourselves and how we conduct ourselves. There is simply no room for black marks on the report card. They will be noticed, they will be remembered, and over time they will be accumulated.

On the surface, others will acknowledge our politeness, our naturalness, and all those ‘in the moment’ things, but deep down in their subconscious they can’t help but form impressions that will last a lifetime. They will be judging us on critical things like trust and believability, irrespective of the company we now work for, or the brands, products and services we now represent. Even to a stranger, this personal brand of ours will be revealed through our attitude: it is reflected in our presence, our poise, our self-confidence, our manners, our openness, and our enthusiasm… it will shine like a beacon!

So forget the likes of Mercedes, Nike, and Shell – it is this unique personal brand of ours that is truly the priceless one!

About the Author:

In a distinguished career spanning half a century, Keith Rowe has managed the full journey from shop floor to boardroom. Along the way, he has headed the Australian sales and marketing operations for three of the world’s largest Consumer Electronics manufacturers – Toshiba, Sanyo and Sharp.

Statistics Programming – Easing the Pain

Different sets of software are being developed everyday just to ease man with some of his technical works such as in the field of business. These programs are specially designed to make high speed calculations and analysis of the data and come up with a soft copy of information output that can be used instantaneously after the software processes it. Statistics is one of the most complicated clerical works of anyone who is studying or working in the field of economics, politics and even social matters. Statistics is deemed to be of importance because it gives a type of descriptive conclusion or interpretation that can be very precise depending upon the quality of data that has been gathered and the competence that is given to organize, interpret and represent that data. But even with the level of competence that a person has with regards to his statistical skills, there is still a probability that a miscalculation might be made and alter the holistic outcome of the statistics.

However, because of the rapid advancements of technology and the evolution of the functions that can be performed by the humble computer software developers has come up with a certain software program that can make ease any statistician of all their statistical tasks. The development of a program that is able to perform the task of organizing and interpreting statistical data was q revolutionary breakthrough when it comes to statistical analysis help. Statistics programming is defined as the systematic calculation of all the numerical data that has been downloaded into the system wherein it is organized basing upon the categories. These categories are classified upon the nature of the data that has been downloaded. After the process of organizing the data, it will be then interpreted numerically. This function of statistical programming helps to lessen the burden of work and also to maximize the output of a statistician.

Statistical program is composed of sets of languages. There are a total of 17 categories in a statistical program and these are the following;
• Analytica, ADMB
• Gretl, GAUSS
• Mathematica
• OxMetrics
• Quantum (Programming Language)
• Programming Language, SPSS, Symbolic Data Analysis, Sysquake, SAS (software and language), Speakeasy(Computation), SHAZAM (Software)
• World Programming System
• XLispStat

Each of these categories of Statistics Programs has their own unique sets of functions. Each one of it is capable of performing specific functions about statistics. The MATRIX LAB is one of the statistics programs that are widely used today. It is a program that is provided by a certain company that is said to be fully capable of solving ad coming up with solutions with regards to any mathematical or numerical problems that are fed into it. The MATLAB assignment helps not only statistics but also other aspects that majorly require the use of mathematical equations and solving. Because of these software programs, statisticians are given more time to pay attention to other details of the data and leave the organization and the interpretation of it to the statistics software.