Under the current Estate Tax law, each individual is entitled a lifetime exclusion of $5 million ($10 million for married couples) indexed for inflation. In 2016 the amount is $5.45 million per person ($10.9 million for couples). The top tax rate on estates in excess of the exemption amount is 40%.
For couples, the law allows the estate of a surviving spouse to use the "unused portion" of the deceased spouse's exemption. This portability feature has not historically been a feature of the Federal Estate Tax and in some situations, allows the estate planning documents to be simplified.
The State of California no longer imposes an inheritance tax upon the death of an individual. The inheritance tax was eliminated by constitutional amendment.
Proper estate planning can result in significant tax savings. Contact the Law Office of Jerome B. Smith to be kept fully up to date regarding new developments in the federal estate tax and to ensure that your estate planning includes the techniques necessary to minimize or eliminate estate and capital gains taxes upon your passing.