In a wise, but surprising turn of events, the President has agreed with the Republican Congress and adjusted the estate tax levels for 2011 and 2012. For the next two years, the estate tax will be levied on all estates over $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a married couple and at a rate of 35 percent. Historically, Republicans have often been known for their distain of excessive taxes and Democrats have been known as the party that favors big government and higher taxes. With the referendum against the Democrats in the last election and the heavy shift to a Republican House and Senate, the President had no choice but to cave to the Republican demand for a lower estate tax. If not, the amount of estate taxes paid by the families of middle-income voters would have been a hot button topic during the 2012 Presidential election, and could have been the cause of a loss of the White House.

So where does this leave us? While the estate tax is held in check for the next two years, there is no definitive answer as to where it goes after that. In 2013, we could have another year of no estate tax or we could have a 55 percent estate tax on everything over $600,000. Who knows? The only thing that we can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. A trust-based estate plan will ensure the most tax savings no matter what the estate tax number is in the year you die. In addition, there are more advantages to having a trust than just estate tax protection, including but not limited to probate avoidance, asset protection, and control of your assets from beyond the grave.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Pardo, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?