To Plan or Not to Plan: Rip Van Taxes

Happy Thanksgiving! Yahoo Finance has this article about the coming “fiscal cliff” and some people’s race to do year-end estate and tax planning, while others are brushing off the tax planning opportunity and waiting to see what, if anything, Congress will do.  While the estate, gift, and generation-skipping tax exemptions are likely to be at the highest point in our lifetimes and the rates are probably at historic lows, the article  points out that maxing out your exemptions may only really matter if you’ve got $10 million of spare assets to give away in trusts. Anecdotally, many estate planning attorneys are seeing clients with $5 million+ estates setting up irrevocable trusts this year, but many middle class clients aren’t as concerned about looming tax increases. The article correctly notes that the estate tax “is not a tax on everyone, it’s a tax on people [with substantial assets] who aren’t paying attention.” Whatever you’re stance on the fiscal cliff and taxes, don’t be caught unprepared for the changes ahead like Rip Van Winkle.

So if you don’t have $5 million+ in assets, why bother with estate planning? Well, if you’re a high risk professional (accountant, architect, attorney, doctor, executive), asset protection is an issue. Maybe you’ve recently gotten married, divorced, or had a child. Or maybe you’re like most clients we work with who want to ensure their family’s taken care of and a surviving spouse and children don’t have to deal with a legal and financial mess after a loved one’s passing.

Whatever your estate planning motivations or needs, we can help. Our office, Johnson Law KC LLC, has years of collective experience doing estate planning, ranging from simple wills for individuals and young couples to complex dynasty trusts and advising on how best to transition the farm or family business. Give us a call (913-707-9220) or email ( and we’ll schedule a convenient appointment to serve your estate planning needs.

(c) 2012, Stephen M. Johnson, Esq.


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