Spring break is just a memory for most Indiana schoolkids and their teachers, but the U.S. Congress is just now getting back from their two-week recess. Your senators and congressmen weren’t enjoying the attractions at Disney World, however – this was an in-state, in-district work period for them.

As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, I make it a priority to stay on top of what’s going on in and around our state. I take particular interest in any national legislation and discussion that could affect our economy here in Indiana, especially if those decisions could directly or even indirectly affect my bankruptcy clients.

One very important and interesting topic that’s on the front burner now in Congress is the estate tax. There has been much talk, and there will continue to be much talk, about the estate tax law, which is due to expire or “sunset” in 2010. There are proposals on the table to raise the exemption from estate tax to as high as $10 million for married couples, and to lower the maximum estate tax rate to 35%.

It’s so interesting, and so ironic… On the one hand I’m dealing day in, day out, with people struggling for financial survival, and here all this attention is being paid to people with ten million dollar estates! What possible connection could there be between these two extremes?
Although I am no economist, I understand that there is an important connection. The more jobs we create in Indiana, the greater chance people have to avert bankruptcy, and the easier it’s going to be for people who have to file bankruptcy to rebuild their financial lives. One thing I do know is that a very large percentage of new jobs being created are in small, family-owned businesses. As the older generation of business owners reach their older years and then pass away, passing their businesses on to the next generation, lower estate taxes will make it more feasible for that younger generation to stay in business and continue to keep people working in those businesses.

The way I view all of this (and, let me remind you again, economics is not my field) – everything’s connected with everything else, even if it’s under the surface. Farming is connected to industry, small business is connected to big business, estate taxes are connected to preserving businesses, and it’s all connected to jobs. And the job situation is very, very much connected to the future for my bankruptcy clients.