Structuring Joint Exempt Step-Up Trusts: Evolving Tool to Maximize Step Up in Basis

Leveraging Opportunities, Navigating Complexities, and Preserving the Estate Tax Exemption With Tax-Advantaged JESTs

Recording of a 90-minute CLE/CPE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recorded event now available

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This CLE/CPE course will prepare estate planning counsel to use an estate planning tool specifically for estate tax exemption and income tax basis step-up preservation. Our experienced panelists will outline practical drafting techniques and explain ambiguities and risks in taking advantage of stepped-up basis.


In an environment wherein the focus is shifting toward maximizing income tax basis step up, counsel must be knowledgeable of all tools necessary to reach this goal. One tool that is beneficial for preserving both the estate tax exemption and basis step up is the joint exempt step-up trust (JEST).

The JEST has the capacity to not only cause a step up in income tax basis of all of the couple’s assets on the death of the first spouse, but also an additional step up in income tax basis upon the death of the surviving spouse.

In order to achieve the entirety of the JEST benefits, counsel must be well versed in the complex drafting techniques in light of IRS Technical Advice Memorandums and Private Letter Rulings. Additionally, the JEST structure preserves the assets of both spouses by protecting against undue influence, creditor claims and possible future estate tax liability.

Listen as our experienced panel discusses the specific techniques used to effectively craft a JEST structure that preserves stepped-up basis at both the owner and surviving spouse’s death. Additionally, learn how to preserve the estate tax exemption.



  1. Basis step up preservation techniques
  2. Exemption preservation techniques
  3. Applicability of IRS Technical Advice Memorandum
  4. Applicability of IRS Private Letter Rulings


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are the best practices for structuring a JEST?
  • What drafting techniques must be implemented to maximize basis step up at both the first-to-die and surviving spouse’s deaths?
  • What is the IRS guidance on this tool offered through the Technical Advice Memorandum and Private Letter Rulings?
  • Under what circumstances is the JEST most appropriate?


Denicolo, Christopher
Christopher J. Denicolo

Gassman Law Associates

Mr. Denicolo is a Florida State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning and a member of the Florida State Bar...  |  Read More

Gassman, Alan
Alan S. Gassman

Gassman Law Associates

Mr. Gassman is a Florida State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Wills, Trusts and Estates Law and a member of the...  |  Read More

Edwin P. Morrow, III, Esq.
Edwin P. Morrow, III, Esq.
Director, Wealth Transfer Planning and Tax Strategies
Key Private Bank Family Wealth Advisory Services

Mr. Morrow advises high net worth private banking clients on tax, trust and estate planning matters. He previously...  |  Read More

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