Historically, it has been thought that the tax affects a small number of tax payers -- less than half of 1 percent is the figure often cited. But that depends on the exemption limit. The tax disappeared this year after being in place on estates valued at more than $3.5 million in 2009. But it is due to return next year, and would hit most estates valued at more than $1 million with a tax rate of up to 55 percent.
This frequently devastates an estate, particularly those involving a family business or farm; often assets have to be liquidated just to satisfy the tax, thereby destroying wealth that it took a lifetime to build.
Tragically, as many as half off all estates are not even governed by a proper Will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan.
What exactly will happen with the estate tax remains unclear. One bipartisan effort has an exemption of $5 million and a 35 percent rate to be phased in over a decade. But, as we reported previously on our New York Probate Lawyer Blog, there are many tax concerns that come with settling an estate -- regardless of the status of the so-called federal "death tax."
Capital gains taxes on stock purchases and property appreciation are just a few commonly overlooked tax obligations. Having spent decades building an estate, it is tragic to see a lifetime of hard work and dedication given over to the tax man because of a lack of basic planning.
So many of our clients wonder why they waited so long to get started. Knowing that your affairs are in order is a huge burden lifted. Knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of after you are gone can allow you to go forth and enjoy life. If your estate is in disarray because of procrastination or outdated estate plans, please call my office for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your needs.
New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575.