Estate of Blount v. C.I.R., — F.3d —-, 2005 WL 2838478 (11th Cir. Oct 31, 2005)

Buy-sell agreements are often used in business succession planning to fix the fair market value of a closely held business interest for gift and estate tax purposes. In this case the decedent, George C. Blount (founder of Blount Construction Company), executed an amendment to his 1981 buy-sell agreement in November of 1996, about one month after being diagnosed with cancer and a little under a year prior to his death in September of 1997. After his death the IRS successfully challenged the tax-planning effectiveness of the buy-sell agreement on grounds that came into play only because the agreement had been “substantially modified” after October 8. 1990.

Two Key Points:

  • Always exercise extreme caution when revising any buy-sell agreement entered into before October 8, 1990 because of the IRS’s aggressiveness in disallowing estate-tax valuation discounts if the agreement was “substantially modified” after that date.
  • If a closely-held business purchases life insurance to fund a buy-sell agreement obligation, the value of those insurance proceeds may not be counted for purposes of establishing the estate-tax value of the business.