Estate Planning

Wills and Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate Taxation of Property Passing Under Probate or Testamentary Substitute

It is important to note that whether your assets are transferred at your death by your Will, intestacy or by testamentary substitutes, all of your assets are subject to estate tax. The estate tax is applied to all of the assets that owned at the time of your death. Whether the transfer of these assets is “supervised” by Probate Court or not is irrelevant for the application of the estate tax. The estate tax is the government’s last chance to obtain a share of your property. Accordingly,  the estate tax laws are broad in scope and designed to maximize governmental revenue. Certain tax benefits are available, however, but only the carefully planned estate is able to maximize these benefits for the family.

Estate and Gift Taxes

The federal government imposes a gift tax on lifetime gifts and an estate tax on transfers at death. These taxes are based on the fair market value of your property at the time of the gift or on the date of your death. The federal estate tax and federal gift tax generally operate under a unified system. This means that the tax rates are the same on property transferred during life or at death. The tax rate that your property is subject to at death is affected by any assets that you have given any time during your life.

The reduction of your estate taxes may be accomplished by taking maximum advantage of deductions and credits which include: (1) the “estate tax exemption amount” which exempts a specified amount of your estate from tax; (2) the “unlimited marital deduction” which generally permits married couples to postpone the tax until the survivor’s death; and (3) the annual gift tax exclusion of up to $14,000 per donee (or 28,000 per donee if gift splitting is elected by husband and wife).

United States Federal United Estate and Gift Tax Rate Schedule


Year Highest Estate Tax Rate Exemption Amount
2009 45% $3,500,000.
2010 Repealed $1,000,000.
2011 35% $5,000,000.
2012 35% $5,120,000.
2013 40% $5,250,000.

Call us at (772) 324-5437 or directly on cell phone (772) 341-7031 to set up a free initial estate planning consultation with an attorney  to discuss your estate planning needs.  There is no charge for the initial consultation — only a flat-fee for the actual preparation and execution of your estate planning documents. Please feel free to call for an estimated fee range quote based on a brief assessment of your situation. We are available for some weeknight and Saturday appointments by request.

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