John, a lawyer with Dewey Ballantine in New York City, appeared on a CNBC program entitled "High Net Worth" this past Sunday, October 16, 2005.
John spoke about Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (or "GRATs"). Put simply, a GRAT is a vehicle for transferring, free of estate and gift taxes, all of the appreciation above a predetermined rate (let’s call it the "hurdle rate"). The hurdle rate is set by the IRS, and it is based on prevailing market rates. As interest rates rise, so does the hurdle rate.
Since the GRAT beneficiaries only receive appreciation above the hurdle rate, anyone interested in creating a GRAT should do so now before interest rates get any higher. Another reason for creating GRATs now is that there have been rumors that Congress will act to increase the minimum gift tax imposed when a GRAT is created.