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Phone: 201-345-3018

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No Clear Answer on Federal Estate Tax

When congress left Washington without determining tax rates for 2011, they left a lot of questions unanswered. Not least of all were those concerning the estate tax rate - not just what it would be renewed at, but whether or not it might be retroactively applied.

Most estate planning attorneys view this set of circumstances as unlikely, though not impossible. By allowing the estate tax to lapse in 2010, Washington allowed millions of dollars in revenue to escape the federal coffers. As most can attest to, letting taxpayers off the hook is not high on the government's list of to-dos.

That means that estate plans written this year, designed by attorneys to maximize client savings, could require modifications in 2011.

Again, this is unlikely - but not impossible.

Equally concerned are those individuals and families trying to plan their future. No one knows what is coming next year, save that something is, in fact, coming. The general lack of consensus in Washington and inability to get something passed for next year has left many in the dark, and that is an uncomfortable place to be when it comes to future finances.

A good estate planning attorney can, however, help shore some of these gaps in information. Waiting to set up a will or trust can be as damaging as lack of information. Even if your plan requires modifications in a few months, having a plan is still better than not having one.

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