Estate Tax Planning Strategies for Wealthy Clients

Leveraging the Exemption While Anticipating Tax Increases

Recording of a 100-minute CPE/CLE webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Course Materials

This seminar will provide a briefing on important developments in federal estate tax law, regulations and guidance and offer strategies to consider to maximize clients' estate tax exemptions. The panel will also discuss possible additional documentation and other unintended consequences from a larger exemption.


In the budget crisis, the federal estate tax presents an inviting target to Congress. The estate tax now is slated to vanish in 2010, returning at a higher rate and lower per-spouse exemption in 2011. Though Congress may yet reverse that arrangement, planning opportunities with the exemption remain.

Accounting professionals must guide high-net-worth clients to take full advantage of the exemption window currently open for 2009 and 2010. They also must analyze all potential downsides to maximizing the exemption, such as new state taxes or increased documentation for existing estate plans.

Listen as our panel of experienced estate tax specialists offers planning strategies to maximize the estate tax exemption and provides a thorough briefing on key legal and regulatory developments in estate tax.



  1. Current situation with federal estate tax
    1. For 2009, maximum tax rate is 45%, exemption $3.5 million
    2. For 2010, tax is to be fully repealed
    3. For 2011 and beyond, tax is to be restored at maximum rate of 55% and $1 million exemption
    4. Obama Administration favors permanent $3.5 million exemption; but, might it reconsider 2010 repeal?
  2. Leveraging the higher exemptions for 2009 and 2010
    1. Create estate planning documents to get maximum exemption
    2. Possible asset realignments necessary
    3. Reexamine whether assets are in tax-deferred vehicles that prevent transferals
    4. Consider whether qualified plans can be left to a credit shelter or bypass trust
    5. Simplifying estate plans
    6. Should credit shelters and bypass trusts be eliminated?
    7. Review of fundamental options
      1. Intentional defective grantor trust, annual gifting, charitable planning, family loans, grantor trusts, etc.
  3. Possible unintended consequences from increased exemptions
    1. Formula clauses in wills, designed for tax purposes
    2. Higher state death taxes upon first spouse’s death


The panel will offer you valuable guidance in these and other relevant topics:

  • Political outlook: What are the Administration's and Congress' current intentions for the estate tax? Could the estate tax return for 2010? What are the chances for an improved rate and exemption going forward?
  • Exemption outlook: Planning alternatives to maximize the spousal exemptions now available in 2009 and 2010.
  • Avoiding unintended consequences: Making necessary adjustments to Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) planning, business succession, and other key issues.
  • Staying current: Recent and proposed IRS guidance and regulations on valuation of larger estates, deduction limitations, return preparer penalties and other topics.


Richard Franklin
Richard Franklin

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

He is an estate planning and trust specialist and frequent speaker on associated topics to ABA and state bar groups. He...  |  Read More

James Carolan
James Carolan
Vice President, Trust and Estate Advisor
Comerica Bank Wealth Management

He has more than 20 years of experience in estate planning, including planning for non-U.S. citizens or assets. He now...  |  Read More

Gerald Hatfield
Gerald Hatfield

Fox Rothschild

His practice focuses in complex estate administration and estate and trust planning, among other specialties. A...  |  Read More

Gary Altman
Gary Altman

Principal and Founder
Altman & Assoc.

He has practiced in estate and tax planning law in the Washington, D.C. area since 1980. He was an adjunct professor in...  |  Read More

Thomas Hyde
Thomas Hyde

Partner, Estates and Trusts Practice Group
Hodgson Russ

He leads the firm's Estates and Trusts Practice Group, serving many clients with cross-border U.S.-Canada estate...  |  Read More

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