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Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)


An Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a type of irrevocable trust used in estate planning to reduce tax liability. The “defective” part refers to the trust income being taxable to the grantor, not the trust, which is intentional for tax advantage purposes. Therefore, the assets in the trust can grow tax-free, benefiting the beneficiaries.


The phonetics of “Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)” would be:In-ten-shun-ally Deh-fek-tiv Gran-tor Trust (Eye-Dee-Gee-Tee)

Key Takeaways


  1. IDGT and Taxes: An Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a unique estate planning tool that is primarily used to minimize potential estate and gift taxes. The term “defective” refers to the trust’s unique structure that allows the grantor to pay income taxes associated with the trust, thus reducing the overall taxable estate.
  2. Asset Protection: IDGTs are useful in safeguarding an estate’s assets against creditors. The assets transferred to the trust are removed from the grantor’s taxable estate, providing a level of protection against claims from creditors. However, the grantor still maintains the control over these assets as they are considered part of his/her taxable income.
  3. Gifting and Sales: IDGTs allow grantors to freeze the value of their estate and effectively shift future appreciation of assets to beneficiaries without gift tax implications. This can be achieved by gifting assets to the IDGT or selling assets to it in exchange for a note. The income generated from these assets is taxable to the grantor, but not to the beneficiaries of the trust.



The Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a significant term in business/finance due to its unique role in estate planning and wealth transfer strategy. IDGT designates the trust’s income tax responsibility to the grantor, not the actual trust or its beneficiaries, allowing for a freeze in the value of the grantor’s estate, thereby reducing potential estate taxes upon death. Also, while the grantor pays the income tax, the assets within the trust can grow unimpeded to benefit the beneficiaries. Given these features, IDGT often plays a crucial part in tax planning strategy for high net worth individuals, enabling them to pass more of their wealth to their heirs, essentially tax-free.


The Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a financial instrument used in estate planning. Its primary purpose is to freeze certain assets of an individual for estate tax purposes, while still allowing the individual, known as the grantor, to exclude the growth of those assets from their estate. By setting up an IDGT, wealthy individuals can efficiently transfer wealth to future generations without incurring federal estate taxes.The IDGT is called “intentionally defective” because the grantor, intentionally, retains certain rights or powers that cause them to still be treated as the owner of the trust assets for income tax purposes, despite having transferred those assets to the trust. This means the grantor will be responsible for paying all of the income taxes generated by the trust, which further reduces the size of the grantor’s estate, potentially resulting in lower estate taxes when they pass on. An IDGT is therefore considered a highly effective, albeit complex, tool for minimizing estate tax liability and preserving wealth for future generations.


Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a significant estate planning tool. Due to the private and complex nature of such financial and legal arrangements, specific real-world examples about identified individuals or businesses may not be publicly available or appropriate. However, I can provide some hypothetical scenarios that represent typical applications of IDGTs:1. Family Succession Planning – A successful founder of a company wants to pass the business to his children with minimal taxable impact. He set up an IDGT, selling his company’s shares to the trust to lower the estate tax value while still receiving income from the business. This way, the appreciation of the business value after the trust setup is out of his taxable estate.2. Real Estate Management – Consider an individual who owns several high-valued commercial/investment properties. To minimize estate tax and transfer superior property value growth to beneficiaries, this person might establish and sell the property to an IDGT. The seller gets payments from the trust while removing future property appreciation from the estate.3. Investment Growth – A wealthy investor with a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other assets uses an IDGT to transfer these assets and future appreciation to beneficiaries at a lower tax rate. The grantor (investor) finances the IDGT by selling assets to the trust in return for a promissory note, providing regular payments back to the grantor. Would-be estate taxes on the transferred portfolio or its growth are effectively avoided.Remember, the specific use of an IDGT should always be discussed with a tax advisor or legal counsel to ensure it fits the individual’s planning objectives and complies with all relevant laws and regulations.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)?

An Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT) is a specific type of trust used in estate and tax planning. It is set up with the intention to have certain income tax implications that are beneficial to the grantor, while at the same time having different estate and gift tax implications.

How does an IDGT work?

An IDGT separates income tax obligations from estate tax obligations. The grantor is responsible for the income taxes on earnings generated by property within the trust, but the transferred assets from the grantor to the beneficiaries are removed from the grantor’s taxable estate.

What are the tax benefits of an IDGT?

The main tax benefit of an IDGT is that it allows the grantor to reduce his or her taxable estate while still retaining control over the assets. Also, by paying taxes on the trust’s revenue, the grantor can further reduce the size of their estate.

What risks may be associated with an IDGT?

As with any financial strategy, there are risks. The main risk is a potential change in legislation that could negatively impact the effectiveness of the IDGT. Also, the Internal Revenue Service may challenge the validity of the IDGT, which may lead to legal costs.

Who should consider using an IDGT?

Individuals with large estates who want to leave assets to beneficiaries while reducing their potential estate tax liability may consider using an IDGT. It is always recommended to consult with a legal or financial advisor before setting up any type of trust.

Can anyone set up an IDGT?

While it’s technically possible for anyone to set up an IDGT, it is usually only beneficial for high-net-worth individuals due to the costs associated with setting up and maintaining the IDGT.

How can an IDGT be terminated?

An IDGT can be terminated by the grantor by paying the remaining income tax, or upon the death of the grantor. The specifics would depend on the terms of the trust agreement.

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