February 26, 2013
Barry Fischman, Tax & Business Services Partner, Quoted in Reuters Article "New Estate Tax Rules Call for New Planning Tactics"
By Amy Feldman
After years of changes and political arm-twisting, the federal estate tax rules became clear and stable with the year-end fiscal cliff deal. They are now set permanently into the tax code - at least until the tax code changes again.
The amount an individual can exclude from estate taxes (including gifts given during his or her lifetime) is an extremely generous $5.25 million per person for 2013.
That leaves very few people who will be subject to the tax. After all, a couple could exclude $10.5 million from estate or gift taxes, and with smart estate-planning - putting assets into an irrevocable trust, for example - pass on many times that amount tax-free to the next generation. The result: Just 3,800 estates are expected to be big enough to owe any federal estate tax in 2013, according to estimates from the Tax Policy Center.
"Everybody should think about their estate regardless of the level of assets," says Barry Fischman, a partner at accounting firm Marcum. "The biggest hurdle is psychological. People say, 'I'm not ready to do anything. I want to maintain control until the day I pass.' You have to have these conversations that really have nothing to do with the law, but have to do with the emotional attachment and control."