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Time Sensitive Planning Needed Now!: Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders Estate & Gift Tax Proposal



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Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders Estate & Gift Tax Proposal:
Plan before a return to 2009 but limited discounts, GRATs & IDGTs

Income and transfer tax planning for the wealthy is unfortunately fluid due to the ever-shifting political climate. The 2020 Presidential election campaign cycle opened with Democratic candidates floating proposals for higher taxes. Senator Sanders recently introduced a bill entitled “For the 99.8 Percent Act” – in reference to the percent of the population unimpacted by his proposal. The bill includes a reduction of the exemption, rate increases, and of equal significance, serious limitations on common planning techniques.

  • Provides a window to be grandfathered into the current exemption if enacted

  • Reduction of the estate & GST tax exemption to $3,500,000

  • Reduction of the gift tax exemption to $1,000,000

  • Increase the rate to 45% for estates under $10,000,000

  • Increase the rate to 50% for estates over $10,000,000 and under $50,000,000

  • Increase the rate to 55% for estates over $50,000,000 and under $1,000,000,000

  • Increase the rate to 77% for estates over $1,000,000,000

  • “Kills” GRATs by limiting the term and requiring a minimum remainder

  • “Kills” IDGTs by forcing estate inclusion of grantor trusts

  • “Kills” the dynasty trust by requiring the trust to terminate within 50-years

  • Eliminates most valuation discounts

What clients should be doing now and why.Gifting to use temporary exemption

  • Planning while there is more time to negate step-transaction risks

  • Creating dynastic grantor trusts that will likely be grandfathered

  • IDGT note sale transactions to lock in discount

  • And more


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Jonathan G. Blattmachr is director of estate planning for Peak Trust Company, formerly Alaska Trust Company, and a director of Pioneer Wealth Partners LLC, a boutique wealth advisory firm in Manhattan. He is a retired member of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and of the New York and California bars. He is the author and co-author of eight books and over 500 articles, and has been chair of several committees of the New York and American Bar Associations and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is co-developer of Wealth Transfer Planning, a computerized system for lawyers that automatically generates estate planning documents such as wills and trusts, and provides specific client advice using a form of artificial intelligence. Jonathan served two years of active duty in the US Army, rising to the rank of Captain and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal. He is an instrument rated land and seaplane pilot and a licensed hunting and fishing guide in the Town of Southampton, New York.

Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, PFS, AEP, JD is an attorney in private practice in Fort Lee, New Jersey and New York City who concentrates on estate and closely held business planning, tax planning, and estate administration. He is the author of 42 books and more than 1,000 articles. Marty is the Recipient of the 1994 Probate and Property Excellence in Writing Award, the Alfred C. Clapp Award presented by the 2007 New Jersey Bar Association and the Institute for Continuing Legal Education; Worth Magazine’s Top 100 Attorneys (2008); CPA Magazine Top 50 IRS Tax Practitioners, CPA Magazine, (April/May 2008). His article “Estate Planning for Clients with Parkinson’s,” received “Editors Choice Award.” In 2008 from Practical Estate Planning Magazine his “Integrating Religious Considerations into Estate and Real Estate Planning,” was awarded the 2008 “The Best Articles Published by the ABA,” award; he was named to New Jersey Super Lawyers (2010-15); his book “Estate Planning for People with a Chronic Condition or Disability,” was nominated for the 2009 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award; he was the 2012 recipient of the AICPA Sidney Kess Award for Excellence in Continuing Education; he was a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Accredited Estate Planners (Distinguished) award from the National Association of Estate Planning Counsels; and he was named Financial Planning Magazine 2012 Pro-Bono Financial Planner of the Year for his efforts on behalf of those living with chronic illness and disability. In June of 2015 he delivered the Hess Memorial Lecture for the New York City Bar Association. His firm's website is www.shenkmanlaw.com where he posts a regular blog and where you can subscribe to his free quarterly newsletter Practical Planner. He sponsors a free website designed to help advisers better serve those living with chronic disease or disability www.chronicillnessplanning.org which is in the process of being rebuilt.

Robert S. Keebler, CPA/PFS, MST, AEP (Distinguished) is a partner with Keebler & Associates, LLP and is a 2007 recipient of the prestigious Accredited Estate Planners (Distinguished) award from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. He has been named by CPA Magazine as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners in the United States and one of the Top 40 Tax Advisors to Know During a Recession. Mr. Keebler is the past Editor-in-Chief of CCH's magazine, Journal of Retirement Planning, and a member of CCH's Financial and Estate Planning Advisory Board. His practice includes family wealth transfer and preservation planning, charitable giving, retirement distribution planning, and estate administration. Mr. Keebler frequently represents clients before the National Office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the private letter ruling process and in estate, gift and income tax examinations and appeals. In the past 20 years, he has received over 250 favorable private letter rulings including several key rulings of "first impression." Mr. Keebler is nationally recognized as an expert in estate and retirement planning and works collaboratively with other experts on academic reviews and papers, and client matters. Mr. Keebler is the author of over 75 articles and columns and editor, author, or co-author of many books and treatises on wealth transfer and taxation, including the Warren, Gorham & Lamont of RIA treatise Esperti, Peterson and Keebler/Irrevocable Trusts: Analysis with Forms. Mr. Keebler is the Chair of the AICPA's Advanced Estate Planning Conference. He is a featured columnist for CCH's Taxes Magazine - "Family Tax Planning Forum," Bob is also a contributing author to the American Bar Association's The ABA Practical Guide to Estate Planning.


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