Continuing Legal Education

TELESEMINAR: Designing and Drafting GRATS in Estate Planning – A National Perspective

March 25, 2014
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1.00 MCLE hours


Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs) are effective vehicles for parents and grandparents to transfer assets to a junior generation while still retaining income from the property for a period of time. If the grantor outlives the term of the trust, its assets pass to the junior generation without estate taxes. There are also substantial gift tax benefits to the donor if the trust is properly structured. GRATs are ideal where the family has an asset –a family business or real estate – that is appreciating, because the appreciation passes tax-free to the junior generation. Low interest rates also help lower any taxable amount to the grantor.  GRATs are very effective and very complex, and their use also restricts the use of other “freeze” estate planning vehicles. This program will provide you with a practical guide to understanding, structuring and drafting GRATS for maximum client benefit.


  • Statutory framework and requirements for GRATs
  • Financial and tax treatment of properly structured GRATS – estate, gift, income taxes
  • Getting the term of the trust right – balancing life expectancy, income to grantor, and tax benefits
  • Low interest rate impact on calculating the value of retained interest/tax liability of the grantor
  • Drafting guidance and traps for GRATs
  • Relationship of GRATS to other estate “freeze” planning vehicles


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Program Speakers:
Sarah M. Johnson
, Venable, LLP, Washington, D.C.
Blanche Lark Christerson, Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management, New York


Sarah M. Johnson is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Venable, LLP, where her practice concentrates on estate planning and administration, business succession planning and charitable giving while minimizing estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer taxes. She is experienced in planning for the distribution of estates ranging in value from modest to those exceeding $100 million, and also drafts and negotiates premarital agreements. She has served as subcommittee chair of the ABA’s Tax Reform Task Force.  Ms. Johnson received her B.S., magna cum laude, from Wake Forest University and her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Blanche Lark Christerson is a managing director at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in New York City, where she works with clients and their advisors to help develop estate, gift, tax, and wealth transfer planning strategies.  Earlier in her career she was a vice president in the estate planning department of U.S. Trust Company.  She also practiced law with Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York City.  Ms. Christerson is the author of the monthly newsletter “Tax Topics."  She received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, her J.D. from New York Law School and her LL.M. in taxation from New York University School of Law.