F+M partner Don Ford was quoted recently in an article entitled “Billionaire’s Heirs First to Win 2010 Estate Tax Jackpot,” which appeared on The Trust Advisor blog. Trust Advisor is a well-known internet blog and resource for information regarding trust, estate, and corporate issues.
In the article, Ford was interviewed regarding the estate tax anomaly that exists in 2010 and that has received significant attention as a result of the death of Houston billionaire Dan Duncan. Duncan, who died on March 28, 2010, had an estate valued at approximately $9 Billion at the time of his death. If Duncan had died in any year other than 2010, his estate would have had to pay potentially billions of dollars in estate tax simply as a result of Duncan’s death. However, because of a provision that was enacted in 2001, the estate tax is completely abated in 2010, which means that Duncan’s estate passes to his loved ones free of any taxes.
Duncan is believed to be the first billionaire to die in the United States in 2010. Prior to his death, members of Congress had already been discussing the passage of new legislation that would re-institute the estate tax for 2010 and make the tax retroactive to the estates of everyone who died beginning on January 1, 2010. Many speculate that Duncan’s death may set the stage for something of a battle between the President, Congress, and the families of people like Duncan who stand to benefit from the 2010 estate tax situation. It will be interesting to follow and to see how this question plays out in the coming months.
For more information about the 2010 Estate Tax Anomaly, please see the Ford+Bergner Blog post on this topic.