Houston gas pipeline mogul Dan Duncan was the 74th richest person in the world when he died on March 28. If he’d passed away three months earlier or ten months later, his $9 billion estate could have generated up to $4 billion for the IRS. But because there’s no federal estate tax this year, the government gets nothing. Of course, that kind of money sitting on the table evokes the question of making the estate tax retroactive. Uncle Sam isn’t likely to want to pass on this. However, big estates mean big lawyers ready to fight to see those billions of dollars go to the deceased’s heirs.
Most of the buzz early in the year seemed to suggest that Congress was heading back to the drawing board in 2010 with their sights set on fixing the Federal Estate Tax threshold somewhere very close to the 2009 numbers of a $3.5 Million exemption amount and a 45% tax rate. President Obama even used these figures as a baseline for his 2010 budget. Now it is almost May and nothing has been done. As the months pass, one wonders if Congress may leave it alone and let the law take care of the matter, re-instating the estate tax threshold in 2011 back to $1 Million and 55%, a sure way to generate income for Washington, and no one has to actually take the political heat for making a tough decision. After all, it’s not like they haven’t known this was coming for the last ten years!
Now is the time for you to consider reviewing your estate tax planning needs, no matter how old you are or what the size of your estate is currently. Life insurance, retirement accounts, trusts, wills and powers should all be reviewed and updated if need be. I can help you with this today!