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The apathy and disdain for the estate tax

With the federal income tax filing deadline approaching, there probably few people who are concerned with completing estate tax returns before April 18. After all, this tax is only applicable to estates valued at more than $3.5 million, and is required to be filed within a reasonable time after an estate proceeds through probate.

As tax reform is poised to be the next major piece of legislation for congress, the estate tax has had its share of controversy over the years since it has been a historically unpopular tax. According to a recent Gallup poll, more than half people surveyed indicated that they hated the estate tax. Why is there so much apathy and disdain for this tax? After all, it only affects those with massive estates. In fact, it may apply to only two out of every 1000 estates. 

But at the same time, if you can’t take it with you, why would you want to give it to the federal government? Surely there are people who would benefit from gifts that may be left through an estate. Because of this, it is important for business owners with considerable interests to have not only an estate plan to provide direction for the distribution of one’s personal effects, but also to provide important details about how the business will be managed.

This could be especially important if there are several people (i.e. children, siblings or ex-spouses) who may feel entitled to take over a business, or liquidate it for their own personal gains. Because of this, business owners should understand that succession planning is just as important as estate planning. 

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