During the holiday season, an astonishing legacy inspired Seattle. A single, childless social worker named Alan Naiman died of cancer at 63; he had become known to his friends for “unabashed thriftiness that veered into comical,” holding together his battered shoes with duct tape.
But when he died, he left $11 million to children’s charities that helped the poor, disabled and abandoned. He scrimped, saved and invested, while working three jobs, so he could help kids he never met. Because he left everything to charity, government imposed no “death tax” on his wealth, but had he directed it to relatives, or even designated strangers, the State of Washington would have imposed its crushing estate tax.
This case demonstrates why government should keep hands off honestly earned, previously taxed life-savings, while honoring wishes of the deceased on their designated distribution.