Has SCOTUS Created a Way to Get Around the Estate Tax?
Sometimes, at a most solemn moment, a most irreverent thought shoots through the mind. When I heard that the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, my thought was "I wonder what the estate tax lawyers will make of it?"
How about advising a terminally ill widowed grandma to marry her much-beloved granddaughter at the deathbed? Won't the estate pass to the surviving spouse intact? I'm not a lawyer, but I think it will -- without IRS getting the bite out of it as would happen now.
And it would be very hard to have a sound legal argument against such marriage. Isn't it born out of love? Absolutely. But doesn't it go against the prohibition of marriage with a blood relative? But this prohibition is rooted merely in the very same authority that also prohibits the same-sex union, and hence could survive juducial review if litigation results.
The law of unintended consequences may work to surprising effect. The very people who are today repelled by the court's decision may come to embrace it as a tool of keeping their wealth in the family; the government that is now elated with the court's decision, may yet come to rue it when US Treasury's estate tax revenue dwindles.
It's a brave new world out there. One wonders how the lawyers will navigate and harness it.