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Most certainly ... This is called gift and estate tax planning. You can, and should, have a plan. Further? you have nailed it, exactly. There are two small points .....
(1) The lifetime exclusion after the last tax act, will now increase very year ... So the difference between the rate at which the estate tax goes up and the rate at which your expected gifts go up in value should not be ignored ... (and to state the obvious) the rate at which the lifetime exemption goes up may be more predictable than the value of those stocks ... (2) This may not be a huge factor, given the size of gifts your are talking about, but the annual exclusion of 14,000 means that you can gift up to 14,000 PER PERSON, PER YEAR to as many as you like and there is NO reporting of any kind (no 709 form) and no reduction in lifetime exclusion.
I have a client, who is gifting to both her (1) son & daughter and their husband and wife AS WELL AS (2) six grandchildren ... This is 140,000 per year that can be gifted with NO reduction to the lifetime exemption and NO reporting required .... this can also be done through trust (which keeps the young one from spending the money the minute they reach the age of majority. ... This is the BEST estate plan, give it all away during life (legitimately, under radar screen)
Finally, just to be sure I answered your original question; (1) Yes the stocks ARE subject to gift tax, and wold be valued at the time of the gift. And, (2) yes, sending them over time is the same (qualified by the different valuation dates) as sending them all at one time (when we're talking about the fact the total amounts send during life, is what's netted against the lifetime exclusion).
Hope this helps'
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