A recent Tax Court Case, Smaldino V. Commissioner Of Internal Revenue, T.C. Memo. 2021-127, November 10, 2021, has lots of important lessons on how to do an estate plan properly. These lessons are particularly important for those that did planning in a rush in 2020 and 2021 fearing dramatic changes in the tax laws. Even if those harsh changes aren’t enacted (few of them were included in the bill just passed by the House), if you are doing planning, you should heed the lessons provided in Smaldino. If you completed planning in 2020 or 2021 already, review these lessons and be certain you have all your tax ducks in a row. If you missed doing things properly, it is certainly worth trying to clean up planning after the fact rather than waiting for an IRS auditor to find issues instead. While the critical mistake in the Smaldino case can’t be fixed after the fact, similar planning oversights might benefit from some after-the-fact cleanup efforts.
Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, PFS, AEP (distinguished), JD, is an attorney in private practice in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and New York City, New York, with Shenkman Law. His practice focuses on estate and tax planning as well as planning for closely-held businesses and estate administration. Throughout his career, Mr. Shenkman received awards and acknowledgments from the New Jersey Bar Association, Worth Magazine, CPA Magazine, the American Cancer Society, and the AICPA. Mr. Shenkman holds a Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the University of Michigan, a law degree from Fordham University School of Law. He is admitted to the bar in New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.