William Davidson was the owner of the Detroit Pistons, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Detroit Shock (WNBA). When he died in 2009, he was listed as the 62nd richest man in the U.S. His estate recently settled litigation with the IRS over the amount of estate taxes owed. The IRS claimed that the estate owed an additional $2.8 billion (yes, with a B) in estate taxes. The dispute involved the value of closely held stock transferred to various trusts. The estate settled for $388 million.
Points, if I must:
1. I would call this a victory for the estate given that the IRS was seeking 7X more than the settlement amount.
2. Of course, it is never a victory for the family when they had already presumably paid more than $1 billion in estate taxes and were fighting over the incremental taxes.
3. All of this begs the question about how much estate tax is enough from one individual. If Democratic candidate nee Socialist Bernie Sanders were president, Davidson’s tax bill would have been $1 billion more.
4. Last, if one owns a professional sports team, or three, good estate planning advice is essential.