George Steinbrenner Feed

Trial & Heirs' Top Tips for 2011 via Forbes

Now into the second month of 2011, it’s not too late to make a fresh start with the important topic of estate planning, which so many people find ways to keep putting off. We think it’s helpful to see what happened last year with some celebrity estates to help add motivation for proper legal planning in 2011. Forbes_home_logo

What happened in 2010? Dennis Hopper and Gary Coleman both passed away, sparking ugly court fights. The estates of Michael Jackson and Steve McNair dragged on with no end in sight, and Anna Nicole Smith’s efforts to claim a share of her 90-year old deceased husband’s billion dollar estate continued into its fifteenth year in court! In addition, the estates of Farah Fawcett, Gary Coleman, Brittany Murphy, and George Steinbrenner provided valuable lessons on how to (and how not to) protect families through estate planning.

Here’s how to make the most of changes in the law this year.

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George Steinbrenner's heirs avoid estate tax - or do they?

Baseball pioneer George Steinbrenner, owner of the famed New York Yankees' franchise, died from a heart attack on July 13, 2010, at age 80.  Checking in at number 341 on Forbes' list of richest Americans last year, the Steinbrenner fortune has been estimated at $1.1 billion.George Steinbrenner

Many publications, including the New York Post, have pointed out that, tax-wise, Steinbrenner chose a great year to die.  Due to a quirk in the federal estate tax law, there are no estate taxes for those who die in 2010. 

Those who died in 2009 paid a 45% tax for every dollar over $3.5 million ($7 million for married couples who did the proper estate tax planning).  There are no estate taxes this year, but next year, the estate tax comes roaring back with only a $1 million exemption and a 55% tax rate.

As the Post article and others have pointed out, this led to a huge tax savings for Steinbrenner's widow and four children of $500 million (based on 2009 levels) or $600 million (compared to the 2011 limit).  Not bad!

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