George Steinbrenner Avoids Death Tax
Megan McArdle points out a political angle:
As a friend and fellow Yankee fan twitters, not only did Steinbrenner see to his succession planning well in advance, he’s also saved his heirs a bundle by dying in 2010:
As last act of succession planning (& for good of the team), George died in 2010 – his family won’t have to sell team to pay estate tax!
There’s actually a pretty solid body of evidence that the estate tax can affect the timing of deaths. Right before it goes up, wealthy people have a tendency to die early; right before it goes down, they live longer than expected. There’s always some dark muttering about heirs in the former case hastening the process, but you don’t really need to posit this. People do frequently live just long enough to see some important event–a beloved grandchild’s graduation or marriage, for example–than then expire quickly thereafter.
While I’m not sure that Steinbrenner planned for this to happen, it certainly is fortuitous for his family, and, potentially for Yankee fans because it’s worth noting the example of Joe Robbie, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, whose family was forced to sell the team to pay the tax on his estate. In that case, it appears that the family was the victim of very bad estate planning since Robbie could have created trusts that would have protected the family from the tax impact that forced the sale. Estate tax or not, though, I doubt Steinbrenner would have left anything to chance.