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Gould Cooksey Fennell, P.A.

2010 Estate Tax Repeal Creates

newsletter Attorney
Uncertainty for Existing Plans Spotlight
To the great surprise of nearly everyone, Congress was unable to
accomplish expected revisions to the Federal Estate Tax in 2009.
Consequently, the previously scheduled one-year repeal for 2010 that was Eugene O’Neill
not expected to survive did, in fact, occur as of January 1, 2010. While chairs Gould
Cooksey Fennell’s
this repeal is, in many ways, welcome news, its unexpected arrival and
uncertain future create an extremely difficult tax planning environment. Litigation and
Many in Congress have indicated intent to reverse this repeal and to Construction
apply such reversal retroactively. Therefore, although temporary repeal Disputes Practice
is the current law of the land, the true circumstance that will apply for Group, with an
2010 remains very uncertain. Likewise, for the years beyond 2010, we emphasis on construction law,
have tremendous uncertainty as well. The laws in place currently call business, real estate and probate
for the estate tax to return with a vengeance on January 1, 2011, back litigation. He is triple board-certified
would not occur, and the deceased owner’s income tax basis in assets will in Civil Trial, Business Litigation,
to an exemption level of only $1,000,000 (down from the 2009 level of “carry over” to the heirs who inherit those assets. However, under some and Construction Law Mr. O’Neill
$3,500,000). There is considerable hope and belief that Congress will act fairly complicated new rules, the decedent’s executor is given the ability is also listed among Florida’s “Super
to increase those exemption levels considerably, but again, those details to increase the basis of various assets, subject to certain total amount Lawyers”, a service which identifies
cannot be known and expectations vary substantially. The generation- limitations. the top 5% of attorneys in the state,
skipping tax laws and the generation-skipping tax exemption levels as chosen by their peers and through
These profound changes in the tax laws, and the tremendous
are also similarly affected by the current, temporary repeal and by the the independent research of Law &
uncertainty surrounding them for this year and beyond, create two very
uncertain future of these laws, both within 2010 and beyond. Politics Magazine.
significant risks for existing estate plans. One is the risk that language in
Another significant change under the current 2010 law is the existing documents tied to tax laws or exemption levels which have now For additional information
elimination of the basis “step-up” on inherited assets for capital gain changed may trigger unintended, adverse consequences as to the division regarding Mr. O’Neill or other
and loss purposes. Under the law that applied up until January 1, 2010, and/or distribution of assets. The other is that existing documents could GCF attorneys visit
the income tax basis of an asset was automatically changed to its current fail to take advantage of significant new tax planning opportunities
value as of its owner’s death. This year, however, that automatic change created by these changes in the laws.

772.231.1100 ▪ 979 Beachland Boulevard ▪ Vero Beach, FL 32963 ▪

Even the most well thought-out estate plan can be disrupted by undue influence, fraud PAID
or duress. Fortunately, the law provides a way to recover assets lost when someone is 979 Beachland Boulevard VERO BEACH, FL
inappropriately pressured to make changes to a will, trust or other legal document. With PERMIT NO. 36
Vero Beach, FL 32963
five attorneys holding an LLM in Estate Planning or Taxation and four litigation attorneys,
GCF has experience handling cases involving claims of undue influence. While undue
influence can take on many forms the most common include:
• Changes to an estate plan promoted by a new friend or acquaintance who became close
to the decedent in the last months of life.
• Changes to a long established estate plan through influence by a relative, trusted advisor,
or caregiver, writing a child or children out of the will.
• Health care workers or live-in aides who utilize the express or implied threat of withholding
care to manipulate a decedent into changing his or her will.
• Transfer of assets or changes to a will following a decline in mental capacity, isolation
from family and friends and a growing dependence on the person prompting the changes.


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capital through limited private offerings.
If properly established, private offerings allow businesses to offer securities which
are exempt from certain Federal & State securities laws. GCF’s Business & Corporate
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