It’s said that there are only two guarantees in life: death and taxes. With the estate tax law, life deals you both in a single blow. Estate tax is the tax collected on your estate if you die, before it transfers to your heirs. For an American citizen, any asset worth over 5 million dollars is taxable at a rate of between 35 and 40% of the home’s net value, meaning any part of the estate’s value exceeding the 5 million dollar cutoff. Below 5 million, the asset is not taxed.
The 5 million dollar exemption is far more generous for Americans than the exemption offered to foreigners, whose assets are taxed if they exceed just $60,000. Still, for Americans with particularly valuable estates, the estate tax can add considerable insult to injury, resulting in sizeable financial losses on top of the loss of a loved one.
But even if your estate is appraised above the 5 million dollar cutoff, there are ways to protect your assets, and your heirs, from this ruthless piece of legislation. For married homeowners, taking title with a bypass trust is usually the most efficient. Here’s what you need to know:
How to protect your assets from Estate Tax for US Citizens – Loss of Exemption
If spouses own an estate jointly and one spouse dies, the estate is not taxed as long as the other owner is still living. This can seem like a blessing at the time. However, upon the death of the first spouse, that owner’s individual 5 million dollar exemption will be voided, meaning that when the second spouse eventually passes away, only their own remaining exemption can be applied to the estate tax. This leaves a large chunk of the estate vulnerable to taxation. But taking title with a bypass trust can protect your estate, and the heirs to whom you bequeath it.
How to protect your assets from Estate Tax for US Citizens – Bypass Trust
By taking title with a bypass trust, when the first spouse passes away, their share of the estate is moved into a trust fund where it’s sheltered by their 5 million dollar exemption. Generally, the decedent’s interest in the estate can then be used as the surviving spouse pleases. When the surviving spouse passes away, their interest in the estate and the decedent’s interest are treated separately for tax purposes, and each interest is granted its own 5 million dollar exemption from estate taxation.
At the Authentic Real Estate Team, we believe your hard-earned assets should stay where they belong: in your family. Exorbitant estate taxation can cost your heirs hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. But we’re here to help. After we’ve facilitated the purchase of your perfect home, our knowledgeable team can offer sound advice on how to plan your estate to protect your assets and heirs.