We are living in a very volatile financial environment. I see situations all the time where the financial security clients have worked all their lives to attain are threatened to be wiped out in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, our legal system provides little disincentive for people to sue when they believe they have been wronged, and there are many unscrupulous lawyers who encourage coercive litigation. While we used to have continuity in our taxing system, we now see “permanence” as being four years or less, and the tax increase pressures on our legislators will continue to grow with our increasing deficit and threatening inflation, especially as the Medicare and Social Security systems run out of money as projected. While the current estate tax exemption is $5.45 million per person, to be adjusted for future inflation, we cannot guarantee that it will remain at that level, and do not recommend planning for it to remain there. The Democrats advocate a reduction in the exemption and an increase in the maximum transfer tax rates (generally, estate and gift taxes work in unison, and we refer to both as “transfer taxes”), as well as a new capital gains estate tax. If you are close to the current taxation level, in my view current planning should be focused primarily on keeping your taxable estates values from increasing beyond the tax free amount, which we call “freezing” the estate, with the option to build in additional planning should it appear that the exemption will be decreased. New regulations already on the books will make this much more difficult to accomplish after January 1 of 2017, and time is rapidly running out to begin this lengthy process. If you think you may be exposed, the time to begin is now. Email Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.