DO I HAVE TO FILE ESTATE TAX RETURNS?

A threshold issue an executor or trustee must resolve is whether an estate tax return is required. If so, the return must be filed (and the tax must be paid) within nine months of the decedent’s death, although the filing date can be extended for six months. Continue reading

DISCLAIMER WILLS FOR MARRIED COUPLES — ESTATE TAX PLANNING IF YOU NEED IT

If you are a married and need a simple will that minimizes or eliminates estate taxes, consider using a “disclaimer will.” It provides “wait and see” flexibility on whether to use tax planning trusts when the first spouse dies. Continue reading

“PORTABILITY” OF $5M FEDERAL ESTATE TAX EXCLUSION

Each spouse’s $5 million federal estate tax exclusion is now “portable,” meaning that the portion of the exemption not used by the first spouse to die is added to the exclusion of the surviving spouse. See Internal Revenue Code Section 2010(c) and IRS Notice 2011-82. Thus, for example, if all of the decedent’s wealth passes to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse’s exclusion at death will be $10 million, rather than just $5 million. With only modest planning, a married couple can now pass $10 million of wealth to their children without any federal estate tax.
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