Whether or not you believe the New York Yankees have seen successful years because of or in spite of the team’s fabled owner, George Steinbrenner, you have to admit he has good, though of course unfortunate, timing. If the tax laws don’t change, or if they do change but are not deemed retroactive, through his recent passing he saved his heirs and perhaps the Yankees organization as much as $500 million. This year, estate taxes are temporarily suspended.
Steinbrenner falls among the 0.3 percent of those who have wealth to pass onto their heirs that would normally be, in other years, subject to the estate tax. Those whose heirs owe this tax reflect a much lower percentage of all Americans, as most of us do not pass on wealth either due to the lack of an estate or the desire to leave the estate as charitable contributions.
Steinbrenner is likely the richest American to pass away so far in this freakish — from a tax perspective — year of 2010. How much his heirs will save depends on the details of his will. Any assets he has left to his wife or to charity would be tax-free, anyway.
I don’t recommend trying to time your demise based on tax laws, particularly when there is a chance those laws might change retroactively.
Did ‘The Boss’ Trump The Ben?, Kevin McCormally, Kiplinger.com, July 14, 2010
Updated January 17, 2011 and originally published July 15, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.