What Is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT)?

Definition & Examples of a QPRT

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A qualified personal residence trust (QPRT) is a special type of irrevocable trust that is designed to hold your primary or secondary residence and remove its value from your taxable estate. As an irrevocable trust, it's is a type of estate plan in which the terms and beneficiaries cannot be changed once the document is created.

A QPRT allows the removal of a home from the estate and will reduce the gift-tax burden on the grantor of the property. As with all products, a QPRT comes with its own benefits and risks. There are also specific steps you must take to set one up.

What Is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust?

A QPRT is a trust that allows you to transfer your primary or secondary home to a future beneficiary with gift tax savings. Once you put the residence in the QPRT, you can stay in the house until the specified date, at which time you will transfer ownership to the beneficiary. Any value the home accrues between the time you open the trust and transfer ownership will not be counted for tax purposes. You will pay estate taxes only on the blue as of the day you established the trust.

  • Acronym: QPRT

A QPRT is an irrevocable trust, which means it generally cannot be changed or revoked once it is established. In this manner, it differs from a revocable trust.

How a QPRT Works

Let's say you want your son to inherit your house, but you're not ready to move out just yet. In order to reduce the impact holding on to the house will have on your taxable estate, you can set up a qualified personal residence trust for 10 years.

The house is worth $400,000 at the time you set up the trust. Ten years from now, it may be worth $550,000. That $150,000 increase in value will happen tax-free because the house is worth $400,000 in your trust. After 10 years, the house will pass to your son and you will only be responsible for gift tax on the original $400,000 value.

There are many variations on how this might work in practice. If the original owner dies before the trust expires, for example, the tax benefits are voided. The original owner, their spouse or dependents must live in the home (or at least have it available for them to live in) during the entire period of the trust.

How to Set Up a QPRT

There are several steps involved in establishing a qualified personal residence trust.

Write the Irrevocable Trust Agreement

The first step in establishing a QPRT is writing the irrevocable trust agreement. You'll need to decide who will serve as the initial and successor trustees, how long you want to retain the right to live in the residence (this is called the "retained income period") before it passes to your ultimate beneficiaries, and then who will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the trust when the retained income period ends.

Fund the Trust With Your Residence

You'll then need to transfer ownership of your residence into the name of the QPRT. This is done by recording a new deed from your name into the name of the trust in the land records where the property is located.

Obtain an Appraisal of Your Residence for Gift Tax Purposes

As part of the transfer, you'll also need to obtain an appraisal of the residence as of the date you transfer it into the name of the QPRT from a licensed real estate appraiser. This is necessary to establish the fair market value of the property for gift tax purposes.

Report Your Gift to the IRS

The next step is to file a Form 709, United States Gift (and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax) Return, with the IRS, which will be due on tax day (usually April 15) of the year after you transfer the residence into the QPRT.

This is necessary because the transfer of the residence into the QPRT is deemed to be a gift to the ultimate beneficiaries of the trust for federal gift tax purposes. If you live in a state that also has a state gift tax, then you'll also need to file a state gift tax return. 

You cannot generally add anything else to the qualified personal residence trust.

After You Set Up Your QRPT

During the retained income period of the QPRT, you'll go about your business as usual. This means that you'll be able to continue to live in the residence rent-free and take all appropriate income-tax deductions. You'll also be required to maintain and repair the property for the benefit of the ultimate beneficiaries of the QPRT.

Transfer Ownership to Your Ultimate Beneficiaries

When the retained income period ends, the trustee of the QPRT must transfer ownership of the residence from the name of the trust into the names of your ultimate trust beneficiaries. This is done by recording a new deed from the name of the trust into the names of the trust beneficiaries in the land records where the property is located.

Once the retained income period ends, you'll need to pay fair market rent if you want to continue to live in the residence full time or if you want to use it periodically such as for vacations.

Payment of rent will help to further reduce the value of your taxable estate and pass more of your assets on to your ultimate beneficiaries without using any more of your gift tax exclusion since the rent payments won't be considered gifts to your beneficiaries.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.

Key Takeaways

  • A QPRT is a trust designed to hold your primary or secondary residence and remove its value from your taxable estate.
  • You can transfer your residence into the trust today but retain ownership for the period you designate.
  • When the trust expires, ownership transfers to your beneficiary, but your gift tax impact is based on the original value when you established the trust.
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Article Sources

  1. Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants. "What is a Qualified Personal Residence Trust?" Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.

  2. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "26 CFR § 25.2702-5 — Personal Residence Trusts." Accessed Aug. 11, 2020.