In 2010, estate planning attorneys have been wondering “what will happen to the estate tax?” We have been wondering whether the pre-EGTRRA estate tax applicable exclusion of $1 million will return or if Congress will finally fix the mess it created years ago. Will the exclusion go back to the $3.5 million we had in 2009 under EGTRRA? Will there be restrictions on GRATs? Will there be restrictions on FLPs?
The intricacies of the estate tax may be in the front of our minds. The estate tax and its strategies may even be of importance to many of our clients. But, seldom is estate tax planning the most important thing we do for our clients. Even with the applicable exclusion at $1 million, most people will not have a taxable estate. But, everyone is concerned about taking care of those closest to them.
We advise clients how to leave assets to their beneficiaries, while minimizing the risk that the assets will be squandered or attached by creditors. We advise clients how to leave assets for their child with special needs, without jeopardizing the child’s governmental benefits. Many of us help our clients with elder law matters, helping them keep their home even in the face of health concerns.
As we approach the holiday season, it’s important to recognize how important we are in the lives of our clients. Our planning enables our clients to make it through very difficult times more easily. We help our clients protect those most important to them from the hardships in life, even when they cannot be there themselves.
Do you have a memorable story to share? Has a client shared how you have made a difference? Please share your story!
Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Associate Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
6050 Santo Rd., Ste. 240
San Diego, CA 92124