Portability: Utilization of Both Spouses’ Federal Estate Tax Exemptions

October 1, 2014
Client Alert

The Federal gift and estate tax exclusion amount shelters gifts and testamentary bequests from gift and estate tax. The exclusion amount for gifts made in 2014, or bequests by decedents dying in 2014, is $5,340,000. The exemption is adjusted for inflation each year. For married couples with combined assets of more than the exclusion amount, a traditional estate tax plan has involved utilization of both spouses’ exemptions, effectively doubling the amount of assets that can pass free of federal estate tax to their beneficiaries at the death of the survivor. Until recently, this required both the funding of each spouse’s separate estate with sufficient assets during lifetime, and the use of some form of shelter trust in the deceased spouse’s estate plan, to assure that the exemption of the first spouse to die was utilized and not wasted.

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