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Planning in Uncertain Times

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An article by Bob Finnegan, J.D., CLU®, HCB Senior Vice President, Advanced Sales Attorney, published in Steve Leimberg’s Estate Planning Newsletter on December 20, 2016.

Since at least 2001 when the estate tax was renamed the “death tax,” transfer taxes have been a political football. With the election of Donald Trump and a 51-member majority in the Senate, the possibility of repeal has become more likely. Much of the commentary has taken repeal as a given.  But is repeal likely? And if the transfer taxes are repealed, what is the likelihood that repeal will in fact be permanent?  And most importantly, how do we advise our clients in the face of all of this uncertainty?

If we step back and think about the prospect of repeal, nothing has really changed from before the election except client and advisor perceptions. There has always been a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the transfer tax system. The need to plan for tax as well as non-tax reasons is just as important today as it was six months ago, and as it will be in six months, 10-years or 20+ years. Consider that the environment for wealth transfer has never been better, and that the cost of delay can be substantial (covered in Part II of this Newsletter). Should your clients sit on the sidelines due to a false sense of security that estate taxes are permanently going or have permanently gone away? In fact, the uncertainty we are living with now could become the new normal and this can be an opportunity for us to become better planners by designing and implementing superior and flexible plans for our clients and their families.

LISI has provided members with significant commentary on the impact the election of Donald Trump could have on estate planners and their clients:

  • Estate Planning Newsletter #2478 Jonathan Blattmachr & Martin Shenkman: Trump Wins, Republicans Control House and Senate, A Brave New World for Estate Planners
  • Estate Planning Newsletter #2489, Jonathan G. Blattmachr & Douglas J. Blattmachr: Even Without Estate Tax the Right Answer Is Still the Same, Put It All in Trust
  • Estate Planning Newsletter #2491, Martin Shenkman and Jonathan Blattmachr: Not So Hard to Figure: The Critical Importance of Current Continuous Estate Planning

Now, Bob Finnegan provides LISI members with his perspective on this important development.

Robert W. Finnegan, J.D., CLU®, is the estate planning attorney for Highland Capital Brokerage where he specializes in business, estate, charitable and life insurance planning, with an emphasis on planning for the ultra-high net worth client.

Bob can be reached at 518.424.8928 or at


LISI Estate Planning Newsletter #2492 (December 20, 2016) at  Copyright 2016 Leimberg Information Services, Inc. (LISI). Reproduction in Any Form or Forwarding to Any Person Prohibited – Without Express Written Permission.


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