NOT AS USEFUL BUT STILL GOOD TO HAVE
This blog has explored the issues revolving around an ABC trust in the past and how its previously primary reason for existence is now no longer a consideration for many people. The primary reason for their existence was to ultimately lowering the overall tax liability of the parties by sheltering one spouse’s assets and estate tax liability from the others. With the higher estate tax exemption and exemption portability allowed between spouses, its utility is diminished. For those in New York, however, there is some need to maintain it for New York estate tax purposes. There are other benefits to having such a trust. ABC trusts are known by many names, including a credit shelter trust or a joint spousal trust.
There is little if any difference between the names. Another benefit to such trusts is the step up basis that is accomplished upon the passing of the owner. Whenever title to that asset eventually does pass, the new owner will have a higher basis, so that when they in turn pass title, they will have a lower capital gains tax bill. Indeed under federal estate tax law, the stepped up basis will likely be not be an issue for estate tax liability, given the large federal estate tax exemption and availability of the portable exemption between spouses. New York’s estate tax, however, makes it more likely that a joint spousal trust should be employed, so that the deceased spouse’s original basis can be noted and the surviving spouse can account for any increase in basis for their estate when they pass away, since the surviving spouse gets full stepped up basis of the asset. This can help to possibly reduce the overall tax bill.