The International Law Firm of Fulbright & Jaworski - Trusts & Estates
Glen Eichelberger and Joseph C. Sleeth, Jr.
2010 view as PDF
For owners of closely held businesses which are in early stages of development, time is generally of the essence if there is a desire to transfer equity in the business to members of their family or trusts for their benefit in a strategic way. The longer one waits to consider transfers of equity, the more "costly" those decisions become from an estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer ("GST") tax perspective.
On December 17, 2010, President Obama signed the "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010" ("2010 Tax Act") into law. The 2010 Tax Act clarified, at least temporarily, much of the uncertainty raised by the repeal of the estate tax law in 2010, and it also presented unexpected new opportunities for wealth transfer and preservation.
The 2010 Tax Act laws provide significant benefit to high net-worth taxpayers causing some to suggest that between now and December 31, 2012 may be a "golden era" for estate planning. That reputation, in part, could be justified based on the following:
- Unprecedented amounts of exemption against the Federal estate, gift and GST taxes: $5 million for each U.S. citizen or resident.
- The lowest overall marginal tax rate for Federal estate, gift and GST taxes since 1931.
- Reunification of the Federal estate, gift, and GST tax exemptions, meaning that there is substantially greater planning flexibility than previously existed, particularly with respect to lifetime transfers.
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Joseph C. Sleeth, Jr.