February 5, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 36

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February 03, 2023

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February 02, 2023

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Estate Planning and the 2020 Election

Election Day is around the corner. Federal gift and estate tax exemptions are at an all-time high and interest rates are historically low. Many commentators believe that there will be no major changes to federal gift and estate tax laws as long as Republicans control any of the White House, Senate or House of Representatives. But what happens if the Democrats sweep all three? You may want to review your estate planning alternatives now and be ready to implement any changes before the end of the year. 

The most likely consequence of a Democratic sweep would be a reduction in the current federal gift and estate tax exemption of $11.58M (or twice this amount for married couples). Other proposed legislation could put an end to certain types of Grantor-Retained Annuity Trusts, or “GRATs” (in particular, short-term, zeroed-out GRATs), and to the tax benefits of making transfers to irrevocable grantor trusts. 

Do these possible changes in the tax law mean that everyone should be doing something now to prepare? No—each client’s situation is unique, and you may not need to do anything at all. Gifts are irrevocable, and every client who considers making gifts in 2020 must feel comfortable with the results. Your advisors at Wiggin and Dana can help make tailored recommendations that best fit your situation. You can then await the results of the election to determine whether or not to implement any revisions to your estate plan.

Helen C. Heintz, David W. Kesner, Charles C. Kingsley, Rani Newman Mathura,  Carolyn A. Reers,  Arsineh Kazazian,  Matthew E. Smith,  Mary Margaret Colleary,  Mi-Hae Kim,  Erin D. Nicholls , Kaitlyn A. Pacelli and Beth A. Scharpf contributed to this article. 

© 1998-2023 Wiggin and Dana LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 280

About this Author

Michael Clear Estate and Trust attorney Greenwich Wiggin and Dana

As a Partner in the firm's Private Client Services Department, Michael regularly counsels clients on the far-reaching financial implications of estate planning, estate and trust administration, probate litigation, and business succession planning. Yet he is also a trained counselor with insight into the family dynamics these matters can effect. Known for his empathy and good humor, he helps clients take prudent action in the face of indecision, hopefully resolving contested issues before litigation.

Michael's estate planning practice includes assisting individuals and families in...

Leonard Leader Tax lawyer Wiggin Dana

Len has decades of experience helping clients solve tax and estate planning challenges so they can build their wealth and bequeath it to younger generations. He serves as Partner and Chair of the Private Client Services Department at Wiggin and Dana. Len advises clients on estate and probate law, tax planning, elder law, and family business succession planning.

Len is a nationally recognized trust and estate lawyer. Worth Magazine has named him one of "Top 100 Trust and Estate Lawyers" in the country. Chambers High Net Worth recognized Len in ...

Veronica Bauer Estate Planning Attorney

Veronica R.S. Bauer is a Partner in the firm's Private Client Services Department in Palm Beach, Florida. Veronica focuses her practice on estate planning, estate and trust administration and charitable planning and administration.

Her practice includes assisting individuals and families with tax-efficient and practical estate, gift and income tax planning. She also assists fiduciaries and beneficiaries through estate settlement and trust administration matters

Robert Benjamin Estate Planning Attorney Wiggin and Dana

Bob has over three decades of experience as an estate planning and probate lawyer and previously served as Chair of Wiggin and Dana's Executive Committee (2009–2015). He is a Partner in the Private Client Services Department and counsels foreign and domestic clients in matters relating to estate planning, probate, and the taxation and administration of trusts and estates. He often works with clients who have complex estate planning needs, such as family business owners and artists. He is also a resource to lawyers at other firms in situations where difficult family dynamics or complex...

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Karen Clute Tax attorney New Haven Wiggin and Dana

Karen is committed to helping clients navigate ever-changing tax and fiduciary rules. As a member of the firm's Private Client Services Department, Labor and Employment Department, and Philanthropy Practice Group, Karen has a wide-ranging practice grounded in a deep understanding of the intersections of personal-, community-, and employment-related tax, fiduciary, and financial concerns.

She advises individual clients about a broad range of estate planning issues, with an emphasis on estate and income tax planning. She works with executors and trustees on fiduciary matters and...