Trust and Estate Counsel

Tennessee Estate Planning Law

Insight and commentary on estate planning issues impacting affluent residents of Tennessee

Fifth Billionaire Dies in the Year of No Estate Taxes

 John Kluge recently became the fifth United States billionaire to die in 2010. The others are Mary Janet Cargill, Dan Duncan, Walter Shorenstein, and George Steinbrenner.

The families of these five billionaires will receive a tremendous tax break due to the absence of federal estate taxes in 2010. It is still possible that Congress will pass a retroactive estate tax to keep these families from enjoying this windfall. If Congress does attempt to impose a retroactive tax, these families, among others, can be expected to challenge the constitutionality of the tax.

Meanwhile, numerous widows and widowers with estates of $2 million to $3 million are worried about dying in 2011. Their families will pay substantial estate taxes unless Congress “fixes” the law.