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Who's the Loser in Family Business Estate Planning?

Estate planning among family business owners is always a hot topic, and the percentage of family business owners who have engaged professionals to assist in the estate planning process has skyrocketed. If the quantity and quality of estate planning is much better now than it was 15 years ago, who’s the big loser in family business estate planning? The answer: Mom!

Remember, estate taxes are due only at the second death of the two spouses. Since wives typically outlive their husbands, there could be a period of 20 years or more between dad’s demise and mom’s. Because estate planning so often focuses on the tax bill due at the second death, that 20-year period of mom’s surviving lifetime is virtually ignored in the planning process!

It’s important in family business estate planning to not let the tax tail wag the dog. Don’t forget to plan effectively for mom’s benefit.

Wayne Rivers

Family Business Institute

Raleigh, N.C.

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