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So far, the House GOP’s proposed tax plan avoids the carryover basis regime that would have been necessary if it would have imposed a capital gains tax at death to replace the estate and generation skipping transfer taxes, as the Trump campaign seemed to favor. No such capital gains tax has appeared in the House plan so at this point it is a clean repeal of estate and GST taxes after 6 years (and immediate doubling of the exclusion amount, which is already so high as to be an effective repeal).

This is all great, as taxes should NEVER drive an estate plan. But always keep in mind that the estate tax (an indirect tax favored by the Founders over direct income tax) has appeared and reappeared many times in our Republic’s history. And the average estate plan is seventeen years old. Plus the Senate’s Byrd rule likely limits any tax legislation to sunset after ten years, and the inevitable power shift in Washington may bring the estate tax back sooner than expected. Flexible estate planning is as necessary as ever, even as to taxes — which even Ben Franklin considered as inevitable as death.

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