The estate tax – also known as the “death tax” or “inheritance tax” depending on one’s persuasion – has been suspended entirely for 2010.
With congress in post-election turmoil and heavy ideological difference at stake, there are many things that we simply can’t yet know and this makes planning both essential and baffling. Amongst the greater issues coming to the fore is the looming return of the estate tax. The estate tax – also known as the “death tax” or “inheritance tax” depending on one’s persuasion – has been suspended entirely for 2010. The suspension was the result of the inability of a divided congress to come to a decision, and so too, now we must wait on a divided congress to come to a decision on what is to happen next. Without Congressional action, the hiatus on the estate tax will dissolve on schedule and thereby return to the last status of the tax, as it was in 2001, with an exemption of $1 million and a top rate of 55%.
Morningstar Advisors throws a spotlight on the problem from all angles in their October/November issue. If you have much to gain or lose in the issue, they advise that you prepare for the worst. It’s also wise to look at how the estate tax may play out in various circumstances – such as for “ordinary” middle class couples, blended families, same-sex couples, families with special needs children, and family businesses. Be sure to check out their tips for common family situations.
Whatever your situation is, it’s important to know what’s going on and how it affects you, but it is most important to have a plan with a competent advisor to help you and your family pass safely through this shifting terrain.
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