David M. Frees III on What To Do About The Federal Estate Tax Problem
The Latest Attempt To Pass A Federal Estate Tax Is Dead – What Now?
By: David M. Frees III – 2010 Pennsylvania “SuperLawyer” Trusts and Estates
Phoenixville * Malvern * West Chester Law Offices
Executive Summary of Federal Estate Tax News:
As you may recall, we recently reported to our clients that a motion was pending
before the Senate to pass a bill that would finally end the agony of not knowing
what was going to happen to the federal estate – or death tax.
Currently, the uncertainty is creating problems for many families and if the law falls
back, as now expected, in January of 2011, many families will need to radically
alter their existing estate plans to avoid the massive 55% tax.
Senator Jon Kyl and Blanche Lincoln’s proposal to phase in a permanent
top estate tax rate of 35 percent and to raise the individual exemption
to $5 million, indexed for inflation appears to be dead.
There has been a discussion by many democratic Senators that
the federal estate tax is a tax break for the “wealthiest of the wealthy.”
But, since the tax includes the proceeds
of life insurance, IRAs and other assets, many middle class and moderately
affluent families will be drastically impacted if congress fails again to act.
The “wealthiest of the wealthy” statement by Pennsylvania Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr.
is a good indication of the strong position Democratic leaders have taken. Currently, the
democratic leadership is proposing – rather than let the exemption sink back to a mere $1,000,000 and the rate rise to 55 percent – a top rate of 45 percent and a $3.5 million exemption.
Yet, nothing seems to be happening. Even the IRS doesn’t know what to do.
However, the political pressure on both parties is increasing dramatically.
Articles abound about George Steinbrenner’s death as estate planning and the windfall to his family
are according to Steve Limberg Esquire “driving people bats and putting pressure on both parties to stop the hemorrhaging blood flow of lost revenue.”
I have (and I am not alone in this) been wrong about Congress quite a few times.
However, I believe that there is not likely to be any congressional action until
after the November elections. I also think it is possible but unlikely that the Senate
will really allow the limit to fall back to One Million dollars. Finally, I believe that 3.5 million
would help to exempt most families from a massive tax. And, while many affluent
families will still have a significant tax ( probably at a 45% rate) planning will be vital for any
Planning should include flexibility, attention to IRA and deferred tax assets, use of trusts – when appropriate, and planning to protect yourself and your heirs from creditors claims, divorce and law suits. You should also pay careful attention to life insurance to avoid it being included and taxed in your estate.
Keep the faith and check in for the latest and for a different analysis in the Post click: Estate Tax Changes Needed in The Washington Post.
David M. Frees III is the Chairman of Unruh, Turner, Burke and Frees’ Wealth Preservation, Trust and Estate Section.
You can schedule a consultation with David Frees at 610-933-8069 for any of the firms office in West Chester, Malvern, and Phoenixville.
He is a regular contributor to blogs at www.utbf.com/trust-estate
www.PaEstatePlanners.com where there are a number of free reports available for download, or in print.
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