Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Estate planning experts are saying that 2010 will be a terrific year to die, especially for people who are really, really rich.
Due to Congress's failure to agree on a fix for the federal estate tax before adjourning for the holiday recess, no federal estate tax will be levied on estates, regardless of size, after midnight on December 31st.
The tax, while unpopular with those it affects, brings in billions of dollars each year to the otherwise cash-strapped federal government, which has been struggling to pay for two wars, extended unemployment benefits, and an economic stimulus program aimed at preventing even higher unemployment during the current recession.
Said one estate planning attorney, "What's really going to be interesting is what happens near the end of 2010. Since the tax comes back in 2011 with only a one million dollar exemption, the temptation for heirs to pull the plug on good old Mom or Dad is going to be significant. If I were an older person with significant wealth, I'd be checking the brakes on my car a lot toward the end of next year."
When asked whether he wished to comment, one member of Congress, who declined to be identified by name, gender or species, said, "Hey, we were busy not agreeing on health care! Who had time to not agree on the estate tax?!"