Many business owners form several types of business entities to hold their assets and operate different aspects of their businesses. A common strategy is to form limited liability companies to hold real estate. The operating entity, such as a manufacturing entity, pays monthly rent to the real estate LLC and this can work to keep liability of the operating entity separate from the real estate LLC. Some LLCs are formed to hold other assets, such as personal property that is leased to the operating entity. Also, LLCs are commonly used to manage family-owned assets and facilitate transfers among family members. LLCs are not required to have the formalities of meetings, minutes, and notices which are required for corporations. However, for an LLC to maintain its liability protections and protect itself from IRS attacks, it is prudent to exercise some formalities to evidence that the LLC is maintained as a separate entity and is not the alter ego of its owner(s). We advise many of our Cottage Law clients and business owners and families who use LLCs to hold and manage assets that they should treat the LLC as a business by following the pointers below.
Going, Going, Gone!
U.S. taxpayers are experiencing a “perfect storm” of opportunity to make tax-free transfers (gifts) of assets such as family businesses, real estate and other wealth from one generation to the next. The gift tax was first enacted in 1932 by the federal government. Over the coming months, we all have what may be the best opportunity since 1932 to gift family assets without a gift tax now and to avoid significant estate taxes later.
Two notable exceptions to the gift tax
Some people are not aware that giving away assets to their children or other individuals may create a taxable event. The “gift tax” referenced above applies to anything of value transferred by one individual to another. There are two notable exceptions to the gift tax. One is an “annual exclusion” which is an exception that allows individuals to gift up to $13,000.00 per year per person without any gift tax consequences. A second exception is an overall gift tax exemption which historically has been limited to $1M during an individual’s lifetime.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you arrive, everything always looks the same. Granted, the trees are taller and wildflowers seem to be growing everywhere. But your family cottage is the same to you today as it’s always been.
Cubby holes filled with trinkets and treasures
While waving hello to neighboring friends you realize every family cottage and summer home is as different as the memories gathered by families every summer. Each cottage has a special cubby hole filled with trinkets and treasures from sandy beaches and hiking adventures through surrounding woods. Weathered hinges guarantee screen doors will squeak open and slam shut right on cue announcing that this is summer. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of racing down to the lake and assuming every summer will be just like the last.
The Practical Effect of Michigan Supreme Court’s Decision in the case of Klooster v City of Charlevoix
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Klooster case provides that certain types of joint ownership of real estate in Michigan can prevent property taxes increasing at the time of a joint owner’s death. While the decision is generally favorable to the taxpayer, there are various rules and contingencies that must be satisfied in order to achieve property tax savings.
Dan A. Penning has been invited as a featured speaker to present on the topic of estate and gift tax issues concerning cottage succession planning at the ICLE 51st Annual Probate & Estate Planning Conference for Michigan attorneys. Penning will join two other speakers addressing cottage law succession planning issues during the three-day conference featuring a variety of topics for Michigan attorneys seeking continuing legal education. The conference will be held at the Grand Traverse Resort, in Acme, Michigan on May 19-21, 2011 and a second presentation will be held at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan on June 17-18, 2011.
Proposed “Carried Interest” Tax Purports to Soak Wall Street But Hits Family Businesses
For the time being, the Senate has again abandoned efforts to impose a “carried interest tax” on venture capitalists, investors, and managers of family businesses. The tax would have increased the 15% capital gains tax rate on certain investors’ profits to the top income tax rate, which is scheduled to hit 39.6% on January 1st (H.R. 4213). The share of investors’ profits is called “carried interest.” It might appear at first glance that it’s perfectly fine for investment managers to be taxed at higher rates on their “carried interest.” But venture capitalists and investors don’t reside exclusively on Wall Street. The law was written so broadly that it could have hit approximately 6.5 million people invested in real estate partnerships that own anything from a single dwelling to sizable commercial properties.
The proposed legislation attempts to sway middle America by couching the carried interest tax as imposing a higher rate on “investment management services” and “investment managers” who work for Wall Street houses. In reality, the proposed legislation could have imposed a higher tax rate on any partnerships invested in particular assets. The higher rates would apply to investment gains and also to gains from the sale of the partnership, and therefore, a sale of the family business would not qualify as a capital gains transaction. Family operations are commonly formed as partnerships and managed by a family member. Under the proposed legislation, the managing family member could be subject to the “carried interest tax.” For a family partnership to gain liability protection and also not be subject to the higher taxes, an outsider – not a family member — would have to manage the partnership. The House version of the legislation exempted family farms and ranches held in partnerships. Other family partnerships would have had to wait for the Treasury Department to exempt them through regulations.
We are pleased to announce that Dan A. Penning has been named a FIVE STAR Wealth Manager by HOUR Detroit magazine in its June, 2010 issue.
As detailed below, more than 11,000 wealth managers practice accounting, business planning, estate planning, financial planning, insurance and investments in the metropolitan Detroit area. Out of the 11,000 wealth managers, only 686 of the top-scoring wealth managers were named a FIVE STAR Wealth Manager for 2010. Out of the 686 wealth managers, only 50 attorneys were included in the list and Penning was named as 1 of the 50 attorneys.
Launching a boat in Michigan waters during the month of April is not very common. Boat insurance policies, however, generally begin to provide coverage on April 15. If you’ve not given much thought to your boat insurance policy, this spring might be a good time to review your policy and determine if you need more protection as you navigate the Great Lakes or Michigan’s inland lakes.
Although many homeowner and automobile companies offer boat insurance, the coverage your existing policy provides may not be adequate. Many policies provide a list of “named perils” outlining situations the policy covers, such as fire, vandalism and malicious mischief. If you need more coverage, look for an “all risks” policy that covers more predicaments in which you might find yourself.
As weather in Michigan becomes warmer signaling the approach of summer, waterfront property owners begin thinking about boats, docks, jet skis, etc. Every summer, unfortunate accidents occur that are related to water and recreational activities: swimmers make a wrong judgment regarding the depth of the water and dive into shallow water resulting in severe neck injuries, boaters and those driving personal watercraft can be blinded by the sun and fail to see someone skiing or tubing behind a boat resulting in a catastrophic accident, a “slip and fall” during a game of volleyball played on the beach or in shallow water can cause unexpected and long-lasting injuries.
In 1987 the Michigan Supreme Court consolidated two cases, one involving an individual who was injured while slipping on logs that property owners installed at the edge of a lake to prevent erosion. The resulting neck injury caused paralysis from the shoulders down. Three neighborhood associations and individual subdivision lot owners were sued for damages. The defendants included over 200 individuals. The other case involved a child who drowned while she and her mother were visiting relatives. The child died in the shallow part of a pond owned by her aunt and uncle. The Supreme Court determined that the cases could proceed to trial despite the protections afforded property owners in the Michigan Recreational Land Use Act (RUA). The Court determined that the RUA was only applicable to large, undeveloped tracts of land.
Blog Added to Our New Cottage Law & Cottage Succession Planning Website!
We’ve added a blog to our new cottage law website to post additional information about cottage succession planning, and for cottage family members to post their favorite memories of time spent at the family cottage. Please stop by and share your own favorite cottage memories!
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