• http://thetrustadvisor.com Jerry Cooper

    It’s always sad when somebody dies. Particularly when that person is a billionaire. But if that billionaire happens to die this year, when there’s no death tax, a death maybe less painful.

    This week’s posting about the passing of Dan Duncan, the billionaire who died last month, leaving behind an estate worth $9 billion generated considerable buzz among our readers.

    In particular, Ronald Joe, told us “If you must insist on making an announcement every time a billionaire dies in 2010, please do NOT assail us with such blatantly disgusting and sensationalistic headlines like this.

    Does ANYONE really “win” when someone DIES (especially someone as admirable and altruistic as Mr. Duncan)???

    Next time, please curb your enthusiasm.”

    My comment: to all of us, death is unfortunate and sad. Its never a good time die, but if you’re a billionaire and you’ve lived a full life, 2010 (with no estate tax and an extra $4 billion to your hiers) maybe a pretty good time to go!

    Jerry Cooper

  • Aphira

    I’m confused by this statement: “If his advisors were up to the job, the bulk of his remaining wealth was probably held in trust, so it probably wouldn’t be subject to estate tax either way.”

    Trusts are often subject to estate inclusion and estate tax – If the decedent held any strings to the trust (income, power to control, etc.) the trust would have been included in his gross estate and thus subject to estate tax.

    If you meant something else by the above quoted statement, it was not readily clear and it would be better to clarify. Too many people think by putting property in trust, it magically is not subject to estate tax and this, in many cases, is a big fat lie.

  • brian j cohan

    Yes it is a likely winner for the estate and its beneficiaries…..from another standpoint it must be a real headache dealing with the capital gains issues presented in this situation.

  • Elaine Leichter

    So far, the only people I’ve noticed doing any serious hand-wringing over the gap in the estate tax law are the “experts.” From where I sit, it appears that the House passed a bill in early December, which the Senate appears to be ignoring completely. Of the things that I have read describing what is on the Senate’s agenda, consideration of the estate tax is not even on the short list. Different legislators are tossing proposals around, none of which are gaining any traction.

    Insufficient dialog went on within the estate planning community about how to deal with the chaos that is resulting from the temporary replacement of the coordinated gift and estate tax system with the uncoordinated gift tax/carryover basis/capital gains tax not-really-anything-anyone-would-call-a-system system we estate planners are watching unfold like a slow train wreck. We should have planned better for this, but the experts predicted that there was “no way Congress would let this happen.” Now we are unhappy because many of our estate plans do not deal as efficiently with the new rules as they perhaps could.

    I hope that now that we know the legislative malpractice of which Congress is capable, we will not find ourselves caught unprepared again. [I don’t know who first coined the term “legislative malpractice,” but it is a keeper.]

    The estate tax used to be an issue only for about 2 to 4% of the American public. It now applies to pretty much everyone who might receive appreciated property from a decedent. Even if there is plenty of basis increase to go around, the recipient must still be able to show that basis increase was applied to what s/he received.

    I suppose, as an attorney practicing in this area, I should show a little more appreciation to our sad disfunctional legislative branch. The potential estate administration client base just expanded a lot!!!

  • denise

    Regrding the disappearance of any estate tax and its stepped-up basis I’ll trade a 15% cap gain “headache” for a 45% estate tax anyday. What kind of gov yahoos allow any billionaire to die anytime up til Dec 31 with no tax due and a depression-era WW2 vereran to die a day later on Jan 1, 2011 with 55% due on everything over 1M. Please God, let us make it clear to these congressional grave robbers that they should not show their faces at an any Verteran’s Day celebrations this November!

  • http://www.d2sportstalk.com d2

    Wow he is definetly a winner but something dosen’t seem to be quite right…. mmmm

  • http://www.treadmillcoupons.com Treadmill Traci

    It makes me angry to know how much of our money goes to the government. The fact that Dan Duncan had a 9 billion dollar estate and 4 billion of it could have gone to the IRS is absolutely ridiculous. He should be able to leave his legacy to his own family instead of the U.S. government. I am happy that the law was changed and I hope they don’t change it back. It makes me feel badly that when families lose their loved ones they have to worry about the government swooping in and taking half of the estate away from them. Greedy government!!

  • http://www.scopulus.co.uk/taxsheets/ Scop

    I agree. I cannot image that he did not have tax planning in place. I have never agreed with the idea of paying taxes when you die. It seems immoral.