Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Possibility That an Accident Victim Would Have Died in a Year Subsequent to Year of Death When Estate Taxes Would Have Been Lower Is Not a Pecuniary Injury
The decedent died from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. In the subsequent wrongful death suit, the plaintiffs asserted, among other claims, one for economic damages equal to the difference between the federal estate tax paid in the decedent’s estate and the substantially smaller tax that would have been paid had the decedent, who was 91 years of age at death, had died in the following year. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the estate tax claim, the intermediate appellate court reversed, and the Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed and reinstated the trial court’s judgment, holding that under state law, the estate taxes are neither contributions to heirs the decedent was prevented from making nor a pecuniary loss. Beim v. Hulfish, 83 A.3d 31 (N.J. 2014).
Special thanks to William LaPiana (Professor of Law, New York Law School) for bringing this case to my attention.