What is Death Tax?

The death (or estate) tax is a tax imposed by both the federal government and some states on a deceased person’s properties that are passed on to his or her beneficiaries or heirs.

By reducing the size of your estate, you can avoid or reduce the estate taxes that you owe. One of the most popular methods of reducing the size of your estate is by making tax free gifts throughout your lifetime. Every calendar year, you can give every recipient up to $13,000 without paying gift taxes. In addition, you can also pay for another person’s tuition or medical expenses without being subjected to gift taxes. Any donations to charity are also exempt from estate and gift taxes. Another popular method for married couples is by creating an AB trust. This legal instrument allows a spouse to leave part of his or her estate in a trust to benefit his or her children. The surviving spouse will still have a right to use the assets in the trust during her lifetime, but this will effectively reduce the size of the surviving spouse’s estate at death.
As of 2010 there is much uncertainty for the future of estate tax.  If new legislation is not passed by Congress, starting January 1, 2011, for estates over $1 million, estate tax will be imposed at rates up to 55%.
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