George Washington’s Estate Plan

Florida Estate Planning is important. Planning for Estate taxes has been part of our culture and one of the earliest examples and pointed out by Christopher Berry, of the Michigan Estate Planning Blog, is found when looking at George Washington’s Will.

The estate tax has been part of our culture many times over the last 200 years. It has typically been used to help finance wars or the debts surrounding them. The last time the estate tax was enacted was in the early 1900’s and it has been with us ever since. The current Federal Estate Tax is 45% on assets in excess of 3.5 million. With the current estate tax, the exemption is suppose to be changed over the next two years, but few expect the changes to happen. If the tax is not changed by congress there will be no limit next year and then in 2011 the number will drop to 1 million dollars.

An interesting fact I learned from an ex IRS agent in charge of the estate taxes was that the IRS spends around 15 billion a year to collect what is anticipated to be 20 billion in estate tax revenue. This does not seem like a very efficient use of 15 billion dollars. A few years ago many of us would have said – the IRS collects 5 billion, that is a good thing, but with the massive size of the recent bailouts of 700 billion and over 800 billion we might ask why we have an estate tax to collect such a small amount of money.

The current view is that the estate tax will be amended to keep the level of the exemption at 3.5 million. What is unknown is whether we will continue to receive a stepped upped basis and what the estate tax on the assets in excess of the exemption will be.

For a free review of your Florida Estate Plan contact a Jacksonville Florida Estate Planning Lawyer who has clients throughout the state of Florida, around the country, and and throughout the world.

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