Beth Kaufman Quoted in Dow Jones, Estate Tax Fog Settles In
Estate advisers need to be able to plan ahead, but these days the only certainty is uncertainty.
With one exception, that is: They're counting on more cliffhangers in Congress, which has adopted a habit of last-minute, short-term improvising on tax rules.
The rules in place now last only through 2012, and that has advisers struggling to deal with what happens in 2013. No one wants to make an estate plan only to have to rip it up a year later and start over again, but that may be the fate for some.
Good advisers stay abreast of proposals in Congress and do their best to read the tea leaves, but many have been burned and now are twice-shy about predictions. At the end of 2009, for example, lots of advisers thought Congress would step in to prevent a one-year lapse in the estate tax. That didn't happen.
Staying abreast of concrete proposals and sharing information among advisers about ways to help clients hedge against future change is helpful, says Beth Shapiro Kaufman, a partner in the private-client group at law firm Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C. Still, few predicted what happened in December 2010 and she is skeptical of anyone's ability to predict what happens next.