When a married couple dies, they are able to exempt a certain amount of their estate from taxes. Portability allows the first spouse who dies to transfer their unused estate tax applicable exclusion to the other, living, spouse. This amount can then be used for their gift or estate tax purposes when the second spouse dies. The exemption amount changes every year due to inflation.
The best way to understand this is as follows:
Margaret and John are a married couple. When Margaret dies in 2011, the executor of her estate makes the portability election. Assume that Margret’s “deceased spousal unused exclusion” (DSUE) amount is $4 million. In 2013, the basic applicable exclusion amount equals $5.25 million, and John dies. Now the applicable amount available to John’s estate equals $9.25 million because he can add the $4 million that was not used by his spouse to his maximum amount.
This is calculated by adding the surviving spouse’s (John) basic applicable exclusion amount and the aggregate DSUE amount from Margaret.
Why does it matter?
The effect of portability is it potentially doubles the estate tax exemption available to the surviving spouse to use for lifetime gifts or at the second death. Because estates are taxed at such a high rate, preserving portability means that the heirs will ultimately be able to receive more money.
Even if your estate is not very large, preserving portability can protect your assets in the future if the surviving spouse experiences a windfall (like winning the lottery!) and is an option that can and should be explored by everyone, even if it ends up not being the best strategy for your estate.
How to utilize portability?
Portability is not automatic, and it is very important that the executor follow the proper protocol. In order to utilize portability, there are several requirements that must be met:
First, an election must be made by the executor of the estate. If an election is not made, portability is forfeited.
Second, the election must be timely filed on or before nine months after the deceased spouse’s date of death. If more time is needed, an automatic six- month extension of time to file the return can be requested through Form 4768. If the deadline is missed and there is no extension, then the couple will not have the benefit of estate tax portability, and this may result in thousands of dollars of unnecessary and avoidable estate taxes.
Third, a complete and properly prepared Form 706 must be filed.
If you are interested in learning more about the portability exception and how it applies to your estate, contact Adkins Law to set up a consult today!
Estate Planning is one of the most important yet neglected aspects of personal finance. When dealing with our own mortality, people tend to procrastinate. It isn't very pleasant to think about death and what will happen to our family and our finances after we pass away. Having a basic estate plan, at the minimum, is essential to ensuring that your family is cared for after you are no longer here and your finances are distributed in the way that you desire. This plays a significant role in reducing stress and frustration for your loved ones in the event of your incapacitation or death.
Below are 4 reasons Estate Planning is so important:
1) Prevents your assets from going to Unintended Beneficiaries
A main component in estate planning is designating places for your assets. This can be your home or your stocks. Without an estate plan, the courts will decide who gets your assets. This is a process that can take years and can get ugly without a clear plan.
2) Protects your Family and Your Children
In order to ensure that your children are taken care of, after your passing. You will want to name their guardians in the event that both parents die before the children turn 18. Without this the courts can step in and make the decision for you. This could potentially determine who raises your child up until they turn 18 years old.
3) Stops your Family from having to Overpay in taxes
Estate planning can reduce all of the federal and state estate taxes or the state inheritance tax. Without a plan this can be very costly to your loved ones if you were to pass.
4) Eliminates the mess when you pass
By creating a plan this enables you and gives you the opportunity to make a plan for your finances and assets after your passing. By planning in advance it ensures that you have made the right financial decisions for you and your family.
If you need to make a plan to protect your family. Adkins Law located in Huntersville, NC can help you. Call today to set up your FREE Estate Planning consultation.