Vogel Law Firm, Ltd.: estate planning law firm serving families throughout the State of Wisconsin

Monday, December 21, 2009

Estate Tax Update

For those of you keeping abreast of the Estate Tax saga, this brief post provides a few links to information regarding the impending lapse of the Estate Tax, which appears will come to fruition. Some lawmakers, however, are determined to make sure that the expiration will not last for long. Until new legislation is enacted, you need to be aware of what will happen regarding the Estate Tax and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax.

As we approach the New Year, the Estate-Tax-Expiration Watch will continue with great interest. As is typical of government, however, there is a high probability that no one will actually be allowed to leave this world without succumbing to some type of Estate Tax, as there is bound to be serious discussion on retroactivity of the new legislation. Stay tuned. . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

House Passes Amendment To Estate Tax Law

Yesterday, the U.S. House passed H.R. 4154 by a vote of 225-200. No republicans voted for this bill. As I expected would happen before year end, Congress is pushing for a continuance of the current $3.5 million federal estate tax exemption. H.R. 4154 extends the current exemption of $3.5 million per person indefinitely. If this bill becomes law, the current elimination of estate tax in 2010 and resurfacing of a $1 million estate tax exemption in 2011 will not occur.

For estates that exceed $3.5 million, the estate tax rate will be 45%. This means that for every dollar a deceased person's estate exceeds $3.5 million, the estate will owe $0.45 to the IRS. Also, H.R. 4145 does not include a provision related to portability of estate tax exemptions between spouses. This means that lawyers must continue to use flexible trust plans that create bypass trusts upon the first spouse's death to utilize both spouses' exemptions.

As we approach the reality of no estate tax in 2010, Congress is nearly certain to pass this legislation. I suspect the U.S. Senate will take up this bill quickly and send a final version to President Obama for signature. During his campaign, President Obama spoke of his support for a $3.5 million estate tax exemption and this bill aligns itself perfectly with his position.

By Michael W. Vogel