218 North 14th Ave, P.O. Box 317, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235


Door County WI Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


"No citizen may soundly sleep while Congress is in session" Mark Twain

The unthinkable has happened. A distracted Congress through its inaction has made it difficult for anyone to obtain a sound and restful sleep in 2010. A few opportunities tossed in with some major problems.


1. FEDERAL ESTATE TAX HAS BEEN REPEALED, This has set off all kinds of jokes about pushing Grandma off the train, but hold off because this change is only for 2010.

2. GENERATION SKIPPING TRANSFER TAX REPEALED, but again only for 2010. Create Dynasty trusts for the Grandkids.

3. FEDERAL GIFT TAX HAS BEEN REDUCED TO 35% FROM 45%. Make taxable gifts while the rate is lower. But again this change is for 2010 only.

4. EVERYONE CAN CONVERT A TRADITIONAL IRA TO A ROTH IRA. This change is permanent, or as permanent as any law can be. The $100,000 income limit has been removed. If you are over 701/2 make sure you take your RMD before doing the conversion. Also Wisconsin has not yet approved this but legislation is pending.


1. BRAND NEW CARRYOVER BASIS HAS REPLACED THE ESTATE TAX.. This creates a record keeping nightmare. Have you kept records of the cost of everything you acquired over the years? This new tax could be higher than the Estate tax.

2. FEDERAL ESTATE TAX HAS BEEN REPEALED. Almost all estate plan documents use formulas based upon the federal estate tax. The estate tax is no longer in existence so plans need to be reviewed to see how this will  affect your planning.

To create more confusion no one knows what Congress will do now. Some in Congress want to restore Estate tax retroactive to January 1, 2010,(there is a question if this is constitutional), others want to do nothing, and still others want to change the law but prospective only.

At this point there is "massive , massive confusion" according to Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus.

Stay tuned. It is going to be an interesting year.


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