Is Estate Planning Uncertain During Election Year?

probate, estate planning, living trust, trusts, bankruptcy

Estate planning normally needs the thorough learning of the tax laws that will directly affect the decisions you make for your plan. At the same time, in an election year, uncertainty surrounds the fate of many tax laws, making estate planning more challenging. That is not to say that you should be complacent this year — on the contrary according to San Diego Estate Planning Attorneys.


When the future of tax laws is unclear, consulting with your estate planning attorney comes to be even more important. With many current tax exemptions and deductions set to end, you may prefer to take advantage of them now. Among the many tax laws that are currently set to end or change are the following:


Estate Tax Exemption: Presently at an all-time high of $5 million, the exemption is scheduled to drop back down to $1 million next year.


Gift Tax Exemption: Also presently at and all time high of $5 million and set to return to $1 million for 2013.



Estate Tax and Gift Tax Rates: Presently set at the highest of 35%, both will revert to the highest rate of 55% on January 1, 2013 absent action by Congress. Payroll Tax Cut: Adds about $40 to the average worker’s take home pay. Congress extended the tax cut through 2012, but its future is unclear.


Tax Rates: President Bush implemented the tax rate cut on income taxes that is yet in effect putting the rates at 10% – 35%. If they end, individual tax rates will return to 15% – 39.6%.


Alternative Minimum Tax: The AMT was initially intended to keep high income taxpayers from evading taxes; however, it was not indexed for inflation, leading in more taxpayers being needed to use the AMT over the years. The “patch” has been used by Congress each year to correct this, but the “patch” doesn’t extend to 2012 at this time. As many as 31 million taxpayers are expected to be affected if another patch is not anticipated.


Tax Deductions and Credits: Various temporary deductions and credits have been adopted to assist ease the financial stress of the recession. There is no assurance that these will be extended.


Investments: The highest rate for long-term capital gains could rise to 20% from 15% unless Congress acts prior to the end of the year. Stock dividends, presently taxed at the highest of 15%, will also be taxed as regular income, with the top tax rate of 39.6%.