Even if the Republican-controlled Presidency and Congress eliminate the Federal Estate Tax, the need for Estate Planning will not be eliminated, according to Forbes in "Five Reasons You Need a Will (Even If the Estate Tax Is Repealed)!"
In addition to the reasons explained by Forbes in its article, there are many non-tax-related reasons why proper estate planning will remain essential. Everyone needs some level of estate planning, and the potential repeal of the Federal Estate Tax will not change that simple fact. The Federal Estate Tax is not, and never was, the only (or even the main) reason why everyone should engage in some form of estate planning.
“Estate planning” is about making sure that the assets people accumulate during their lives are properly and efficiently distributed to their beneficiaries in accordance with their desires. However, while that objective may be simply stated, in many situations the goal can be a lot more complicated to achieve than most people realize. Comprehensive estate planning consists not only of tax planning, but also of planning for the many non-tax related and personal issues that may arise in any situation (regardless of a person’s wealth). Among other reasons/circumstances, sophisticated estate planning is needed to reduce or avoid the application of local transfer taxes (e.g., the NJ Estate Tax and/or the NJ Inheritance Tax), for unmarried partners and other “non-traditional families”, for people who have been married more than once, and for people with (i) minor children, (ii) disabled beneficiaries (i.e., special needs planning), (iii) spendthrift or “financially handicapped” beneficiaries, (iv) closely held business interests, (v) property in more than one State, (vi) charitable objectives, (vii) complex distributive desires, (viii) significant assets that are governed by beneficiary designation forms, (ix) children from more than one relationship, (x) a desire to protect their beneficiaries’ inheritances from future creditors (such as a potential future ex-spouse), (xi) valuable illiquid assets (e.g., real estate, business interests), or (xii) an imminent long term care need (i.e., Elder Law and Medicaid qualification planning). Despite the fact that someone may not need to be concerned about the Federal Estate Tax, the need for estate planning will always remain vital and necessary. Even the complete and permanent (only time will tell?) repeal of the Federal Estate Tax would not signify the “death” of estate planning.
The potential for Estate Tax repeal should not deter anyone from implementing a comprehensive estate plan that addresses their many tax and non-tax related goals, and no prudent person should fall victim to the myth that estate planning would not be necessary if the Federal Estate Tax is repealed. Professional estate planning and estate/trust administration services will always play a vital role in everyone’s overall financial plan.
Reference: Forbes (Dec. 8, 2016) "Five Reasons You Need a Will (Even If the Estate Tax Is Repealed)!"