Brown & Streza Blog
Author: Matt Brown Created: 5/11/2010 1:01 PM
Matt Brown, Partner at Brown & Streza LLP
By Matt Brown on 1/27/2011 1:27 PM
Estate planning just got a lot more powerful. We all remember the Congressional fight over tax legislation last year. Democrats wanted unemployment benefits extended, and Republicans wanted massive tax cuts. President Obama’s compromise included a provision nobody anticipated – a $5 Million gift tax exemption. It is precisely the no-fiscal-analysis-whatsoever, horse-trading approach to these negotiations that suggests that this is a short-term deal that will not outlast the next two years.

This is extraordinary because the gift tax exemption has never been higher than $1 Million. The power of gifting early, before assets have a chance to appreciate, is a favorite tool of estate planning attorneys. Congress has indeed opened the estate planning floodgates.

There is a catch. This opportunity will only last for two years.

Everyone should be updating their estate plans to deal with some very serious issues created by this new law. Blended families may inadvertently give more or less than...
By Matt Brown on 12/15/2010 4:54 PM

http://www.onpointradio.org/2010/12/teddy-estate

The estate tax is viewed negatively by a wide swath of modern America - a society in which substantial weatlh accumulation is more common than ever and still more possible than ever.  Very interesting to look back upon history to see the broad popularity of the estate tax 100 years ago.  Despite all of the challenges we face, public policy discourses today versus 100 years ago demonstrate significantly more optimism and confidence in the availability of opportunities.  A tax that only affects 2% of the population is widely hated because of this widespread optimism.

By Matt Brown on 12/15/2010 11:47 AM
Title III of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 is titled as follows:

TEMPORARY ESTATE TAX RELIEF

That’s right. It’s temporary. Meaning more uncertainty. Great. Is estate and gift tax planning dead? To the contrary! The next two years will provide an enormous planning opportunity if the bill is passed.

The bill amazingly provides for a $5 Million gift tax exemption. No, that is not a typo. In the past, clients had to go to extreme measures to take advantage of the exemption amount as it increased above $1 Million: they had to die. Not surprisingly, no client has yet found that a viable planning technique.

As you probably know by now, House Democrats voted yesterday not to allow the bill to reach a floor vote, mostly based on the perceived give-away to the rich of the estate and gift tax relief provisions. It may be that, to satisfy House Democrats, the bill is amended to temporarily go back to a $3.5 Million exemption amount with a 45% rate of 2009.

...
By Matt Brown on 11/11/2010 6:03 PM

The estate tax, as burdensome as it could be on some family businesses, is rarely the culprit in family business failures.  The culprit is more often the family's failure to adequately plan and to address business succession issues clearly.

 

http://www.fa-mag.com/component/content/article/6316.html?issue=157&magazineID=3&Itemid=211

By Matt Brown on 11/9/2010 5:06 PM

Good overview article on basic estate planning (although the advice on TOD accounts is generally a bad idea).

 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/11/02/investopedia6151.DTL

By Matt Brown on 6/11/2010 10:47 AM

Making the complex simple is among the most challenging tasks for an estate planning attorney.

 

One attorney who has done wonderful job of this hosts a website, www.laweasy.com, that does a nice job simplifying many of the mind-numbing concepts to which estate planning clients are subject.

By Matt Brown on 5/11/2010 4:10 PM

The site listed below is a new, but growing, collection of excellent commentaries on planned giving ethics issues.