Despite these predictions, many entrepreneurs and taxpayers are in a quandary over what estate tax-planning steps to take now. Does it make sense to go ahead with tax-lowering strategies, or to wait for Washington to enact changes?
While they say it may seem self-serving, estate planners recommend taking steps now to do some estate planning rather than waiting for Congress to act. If you're concerned about changes in the law, you'll want to employ strategies that can be undone, says Capassakis.
Terence Stanaland, a CPA and attorney with Johnson Peddrick & Stanaland PLLC, a firm specializing in estate-planning, located in Greensboro, North Carolina, is in agreement that planning shouldn't stop. He recommends making use of strategies that don't result in outlaying money (excluding the transaction costs). "It's always possible to revisit an estate plan and make the necessary alterations if the federal estate tax laws do undergo more changes," he adds.
Regrettably, taxpayers are using the prospect of legislative action as reasoning to halt their estate tax plans, says Brooks. "There's a false sense of security that estate taxes aren't going to be owed," she says. As a result, the heirs of those procrastinating may end up paying more in federal estate taxes than they would normally pay. In addition, "it's unrealistic to expect people to make quick decisions while they are still grieving," she says.