The 2012 Presidential campaign is under way, and among the issues it has spotlighted is the federal estate tax. Setting aside any political issues, I believe an estate tax can be a good thing from the standpoint that it motivates people (albeit for the wrong reason) to do what is in their best interests, which is to create an estate plan for their family.
Nevertheless, given the current state of the law, and assuming that any of the tax proposals being discussed by potential presidential candidates gain any traction (e.g., that there should be no estate tax), then it seems that the focus of the estate planning community needs to continue to be that people should do estate planning for all the other great reasons that exist, such as protecting their heirs from predators and from their own financial inexperience or passing along their non-financial legacy.
In other words, if the clients came to the office solely for taxes, then the clients missed the point. The primary goal should be to plan/care for those who cannot plan/care for themselves, minimize the grief associated with the loss of a loved one by providing an administration process superior to probate, and setting the example of being good stewards of the family’s wealth and legacy.
From my perspective, estate planning attorneys will still have jobs regardless of who wins in November.
About the author: Stephen A. Mendel is a trial, real estate, business, and estate planning/probate attorney in the Houston, Texas area. Mr. Mendel has over thirty-four (34) years of business experience, over twenty-three (23) years of legal experience, and has maintained his own private law practice for the past sixteen (16) years. Mr. Mendel is a also a registered architect, licensed real estate broker, AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, was recognized in 2010 as one of Houston’s Top 100 Professionals, and was recognized as 2011 Boss of the Year by the Houston Association of Legal Professionals. Mr. Mendel was a fulltime faculty member for five (5) years with the University of Houston, Central Campus, where he taught construction related courses while he attended law school. Mr. Mendel is a contributing author of four books: (1) Strictly Business; (2) Love, Money & Control; (3) Total Wealth Management; and (4) Guiding Those Left Behind in Texas (a book on probate). Mr. Mendel publishes his own blog for his estate planning clients. www.mendaellawfirm.com/blog. In his “spare” time, Mr. Mendel enjoys jogging with his wife, snow skiing and attending sporting events with his son, and cycling.
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