Question: “What should I tell my customers about estate taxes now?”
Answer: Don’t wait, act now!
There are a lot of diverse opinions on what the future has in store for estate & wealth transfer taxes on the federal and state level. Recent history has told us legislators are unpredictable and with a major election year in 2012, any ‘permanency’ with estate tax legislation in my opinion is not in the near future. I’m anticipating an eventual a 1-year extension to the current estate tax law before congress ever gets serious about doing anything on a longer-term basis. Congress has too many other pressing issues to deal with than estate tax legislation and recent history has demonstrated they have difficulty agreeing on anything anyway.
High net worth clients can’t continue to sit around and wait for congress to enact a more ‘permanent’ legislation before planning their wealth transfer. My advice would be building in flexibility into client estate plans so adjustments when and if needed can be made going forward. Establish plans based on today’s legislation and work with a competent advanced sales attorney who will make the appropriate changes when the time comes. Death can occur anytime, so waiting until the ‘right time’ can be a foolish ‘plan’ in itself. Besides, if new life insurance is needed as part of the wealth transfer plan, delaying only increases the cost of the insurance (solution) and often, because of health and other underwriting reasons, prevents a HNW client from qualifying.