Tax and Gift Changes for 2014
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In 2013 Congress made the federal estate tax laws so-called "permanent" with the American Taxpayer Relief Act ("ATRA"). ATRA made raised the exclusion amount to $5.34 million per person. It also introduced the concept of "portability", which allows a surviving spouse to add the unused portion of the decedent spouse's exclusion to his or her own exclusion. This means that a married couple can have as much as $10.68 million to leave tax free to heirs, subject to some exceptions. The exemption is adjusted annually for inflation. Many think that with $10.68 million to give away tax free, they can forget about estate planning. Not true!! There are many significant reasons compelling appropriate estate planning and regular reviews. First, planning has many tax benefits. States continue to impose state taxes. Although there is some expectation that New York's legislature will seek to change its estate tax law in this session, New York imposes an estate tax on estates in excess of $1 million, with no spousal portability. New Jersey has only a $675,000 threshold in most circumstances, and Connecticut has a $2 million threshold. Connecticut is also the only state to still impose a gift tax on lifetime transfers! As of now, lifetime gifts in New York and New Jersey can have significant benefits in reducing state estate taxes. Second, proper planning can ensure that your assets go to your intended beneficiaries. What if you leave money to your spouse and the spouse remarries without any proper estate planning? If so, your spouse's second wife may wind up with your assets when the spouse dies. What if your child gets divorced? That child's inheritance could be considered "marital property" and your ex-in-law could wind up with half your money. For these and other reasons, estate planning is still a necessity regardless of the tax situation.
Posted under: Tax Law

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