Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez offered a baffling defense of the death tax Wednesday during a hearing examining the sometimes unbearable burden it places on family farms and businesses. People receiving food stamps have to pass drug tests or meet work requirements to receive taxpayer dollars, Sanchez reasoned, so it’s only fair that those “lucky” enough to inherit wealth should have to do something to earn it or, in this case, pay a tax.

The estate tax tends to stir up a lot of opinions and emotions when it comes to passing on the family business. During a recent congressional hearing on the estate tax, a witness told the story of her father’s difficulties trying to pass on his family business without having to divide it up or sell it so that the estate tax could be paid. This prompted Democratic Representative Linda Sanchez to respond to the effect that it is not fair that someone must pass a drug test to receive food stamps but not to receive an inheritance that is not subject to federal tax.

The Daily Caller has more on this in a recent article titled “Dem Suggests Kids Should Be Drug-Tested Before They Can Inherit From Their Parents.”

While this appears to be nothing more than a one-off statement from a frustrated congresswoman and not a serious proposal, it does raise an important point. No, that point is not that drug testing should be required before someone can receive an inheritance. The important point to take away from this is that the people you leave bequests to might waste those bequests on drugs or other bad habits.

It happens and it is something you should consider when creating your estate plan.

Fortunately, there are other ways of dealing with this problem short of drug-testing. Trusts can be created to help ensure that the inheritance is not wasted, to include specific provisions when a beneficiary is believed to be abusing substances.

If this is a concern of yours, contact an experienced estate planning attorney who can explain your options.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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