No Estate Plan Needed?

Here is a look at some high profile deaths so far in 2010 that will beat the IRS because of the lack of a federal estate tax. They didn\’t even need an estate plan to do that! Unfortunately, the first three on the list will only fuel the fire on the debate whether or not Congress will make any new federal estate tax retroactive to “catch” the additional revenue.

Here they are:

  • George Steinbrenner, of New York Yankees fame, worth an estimated $1.15 billion, projected estate savings a cool $500 million. That’s a lot of baseballs.
  • Glen Bell, founder of Taco Bell, sold to Pepsi in 1978 for $125 million, projected estate savings not known. But it’s safe to say “Yo quiero no federal estate tax.”
  • Dan Duncan, Texas pipeline tycoon with an estimated net worth of $9 billion, projected estate savings not known. I would imagine at least a fill up or two.
  • Robert Byrd served as senator from West Virginia for more than 50 years, the longest in history. One of the men who was instrumental in setting policy out of the US Senate for over half a century timed it perfectly. That’s right, he had it right. If you’re going to die, die in a year where the federal estate tax is 0%. The irony lives on.

But wait, Congress can decide to make the federal estate tax retroactive—they’ve done this before in the past. As of now, the estate planning community is too shy to say what Congress will do. I\’m not. I think that they\’re going to make it retroactive–there\’s too much potential revenue for the government for them to just let it slip away. If it does become retroactive, also get ready for protracted legal battles regarding it.

The important thing to remember is that having a proper estate plan always wins in the end.

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