George M. Steinbrenner, the iconic New York Yankees owner, passed away in a hospital in Tampa from a heart attack on Tuesday morning of this week. Perhaps New York City Mayor Bloomberg said it best when he released a statement that read, "He has left an indelible legacy on the Yankees, on baseball, and on our city, and he leaves us in the only way that would be appropriate: as a reigning world champion."
New Yorkers have infamously loved and hated the man who was simply known as "The Boss." He passes away as a reigning world champion, but he may also rest well knowing that his timing was so well, he has won his heirs the right to keep their inheritance from being taxed.
According to Forbes, George M. Steinbrenner is the fourth U.S. billionaire to pass away in 2010. A New York estate planning lawyer can tell you that 2010 is a remarkable year for wealthy Americans to pass away because it is the year of the federal estate tax lapse.
Forbes estimates that George M. Steinbrenner was worth approximately $1.15 billion. It is almost certain that the famed boss of the fictitious George Costanza probably worked tirelessly to avoid the federal estate tax with his NY estate attorney through estate planning devices such as gradual transfers of economic interests, the use of partnerships, etc.
Another interesting thing to note is that while George M. Steinbrenner was a New Yorker to the core, he was clever enough to claim that Florida was his domicile (his legal residence). Since the state of Florida is relatively easy in terms of taxes, his heirs can also avoid the hefty New York estate tax of 16%.
George Steinbrenner is always a winner. He will be missed; even by this Mets fan.