Conrad Teitell Comments on Lack of Estate Tax Reform

Conrad Teitell Comments on Lack of Estate Tax Reform

News story posted in Transfer Taxes on 11 May 2010| 5 comments
audience: National Publication | last updated: 18 May 2011


Writing on his own behalf, Conrad Teitell of Cummings and Lockwood LLC has sent an impassioned letter to Senate Finance Committee members drawing an analogy between the recent gulf oil spill and the untenable Congress has created for Americans who are struggling to plan and administer estates in the absence of estate tax reform.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee:
Democrats Republicans
Max Baucus, MT, Chairman Chuck Grassley, IA, Ranking Member
John D. Rockefeller, IV, WV Orrin G. Hatch, UT
Kent Conrad, ND Olympia J. Snowe, ME
Jeff Bingaman, NM John Kyl, AZ
Blanche L. Lincoln, AR Jim Bunning, KY
John F. Kerry, MA Mike Crapo, ID
Ron Wyden, OR Pat Roberts, KS
Charles E. Schumer, NY John Ensign, NV
Debbie Stabenow, MI Michael B. Enzi, WY
Maria Cantwell, WA John Cornyn, TX
Bill Nelson, FL
Robert Menendez, NJ
Thomas R. Carper, DE

The oil spewing into the Gulf can’t be stanched by legislation. But you can by legislation immediately calm the troubled waters created by Congressional inaction on the estate tax.

On November 14, 2007, I testified as an invited witness — with a businessman from Iowa, a rancher from Nevada, and an oracle from Omaha — at your hearing, “Federal Estate Tax — Uncertainty in Planning Under the Current Law.” My charge as the only estate planning lawyer on the panel was to describe how my law firm deals with the uncertainty of changing exemptions and rates through 2009, estate tax interruptus in 2010 (but with a gift tax and modified carryover basis) and a return of the estate tax in 2011 and beyond.

At that hearing, senator after senator lambasted the law’s uncertainty — but you were criticizing the very law that Congress had enacted.

Now that the law has lapsed for 2010, the uncertainty is magnified — for those planning their estates and those administering estates of individuals who have died this year. In some cases, heirs may not receive their intended shares of an estate or be disinherited altogether. Under the law of unintended consequences, testamentary charitable remainder trusts created by individuals who die this year may not qualify as charitable remainder trusts. And a donor who creates an inter vivos charitable remainder trust this year could actually be deemed to make a gift to himself — subject to the gift tax.

Oil spills are unimaginably difficult to clean up. But you have it in your power to immediately clean up the untenable mess that Congress has created for Americans who are struggling to plan and administer estates.

This letter represents my personal views and does not represent the official view of my law firm or any organization to which I belong. No client has engaged me to make these comments to you.


Conrad Teitell
Chairman, Charitable Planning Group
Cummings & Lockwood LLC
Six Landmark Square
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: 203-351-4164
Right Fax: 203-708-3840
Admitted in NY and DC

cc: Staff: Jonathan Selib, Tiffany Smith, Theresa Pattara, Josh Gardner, John E. Castro, John Fetzer, Derek B. Dorn, Anna Taylor, Kathleen M. Kerrigan, John J. O’Neill
III, M. Jeff Hamond, Colleen Einhart Briggs, Michael Daum, Ryan McCormick, Justin Field, Chris Pendergast, Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, Evan Liddiard, Bill Pewen, Dan Brandt, Karin M. Hope, Michael D. Quickel, Jennifer R. Cook, David Kirk Kavanaugh, Tori Gorman, Andrew Siracuse

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Date of Letter

Mr. Teitell sent us the letter of May 11th and we published it later that day. He has been a staunch supporter of estate tax reform and has written several times on prior occasions. To see his previous letters, simply type "teitell" in the search box at the top of any page.

Is there a date on the letter?

It obviously was written since April 20th. Might it be worth including a cross-reference or link to Connie's earlier letter and to the other items on PGDC that address the issue? Sheila Hard Planned Gift Consulting Sheila A. Hard, Principal 4857 Wind Creek Dr. Sacramento, CA 95838 (915) 564-0439

Federal Estate Tax

Thank you. Conrad

Dithering on estate tax legislation

The Senate seems to be, as Stephen Covey might describe, "caught in the thick of thin things." Thoughtful men and women will disagree as to what is the best answer, but the absence of any answer strikes me as inexcusable and unconscionable.

On Target!

On Target!

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