As we crash toward the end of the year and one of the wackiest decades in a while, accountants for the high net worth and famous are all armed with the same good advice. 2010 is a good year to die, at least so far.
What started in 2001 as one of the best tax code changes in recent history, the incremental increase in the estate tax exemption from the anemic $600,000 in 2001 to the present estate saving $3.5 million, is set to unravel completely as 2010 dawns.
At that point, barring some move by Congress (which I’m betting on), there won’t be anymore exemption or tax. If you can manage to pass away that year you can pass your entire estate on to your heirs completely untouched by the Feds.
If that really does play out, 2011 is when we see the stupid stick knock the good idea out of the park. If Congress really does nothing the estate tax will come roaring back to life with a lowered exemption, back to $1 million and a higher tax rate. Everything gained in the last decade to make this tax more fair will be wiped and we will once again have a legacy eating monster on the loose.
Because of all of this uncertainty and the potential for even deeper estate gobbling, this is a good time to review your estate preserving second to die life insurance policy. If you have skipped through so far ignoring the impact of estate taxes on all that you spent your life building, it’s a very good time to consider how, for pennies on the dollar, your net worth can remain in your family and your estate can stand ready to meet the demands of the government whatever direction they might take.
Bottom line. We are at a juncture that shouldn’t be ignored or misread. Even though if nothing happens it will be a tax train wreck, all signs point to Congressional intervention to keep exemption and tax levels at $3.5 million and 45%. That’s good news from a couple of angles. It’s far more fair than the path that is in place and we have some of the best life insurance products (best guarantees and rates) in history to fund estate preservation trusts.