Most people today are not impacted by the estate tax exemption amounts. That’s because the amounts are so high that all but those with a high net worth don’t have to worry about that at a federal level.
But the current high federal levels might not last forever. There are proposals on the table that would reduce the amounts, meaning that many more people would have to think about estate tax exemption planning. This could include the use of strategies over your lifetime to minimize what’s in your taxable estate as well as strategies for what happens to your assets at your death, too.
Based on current proposals, this would reduce a married couple’s exemption amount from a current combined $23.4 million down to just $7 million. There are a few options available to you if you and your loved ones want to discuss what this means for your family. It’s expected that no matter what the change is, that this could come into effect over the next couple of years and that multiple changes might hit estate taxes during this time.
This makes it all the more important to have a trusted estate planning lawyer to help you with exemption amounts. You might want to take advantage of gifting, for example, if you are suddenly thrust into that estate tax threshold. You could also use other means, like a life insurance policy, to help cover the gap when it comes to paying additional tax if your estate did hit that threshold.
The proposed STEP bill would add a tax on asset gains that are transferred at death as well. This means that the capital gains tax at the time of the asset transfer would apply and subject those estates with more than $3.5 million to estate taxes if all currently proposed legislation is passed. While a complicated thing to understand given the connection between multiple laws and proposed legislative changes, the bottom line is the same: a client would no longer be able to benefit by holding on to assets until they pass away if these laws are passed.
With so much at stake and still in flux, one of the best things you can do is find an experienced NJ asset protection planning and estate planning lawyer to help you plan ahead and adjust as needed.