Estate Taxes

“Estate taxes involve a complex set of rules which must be navigated with precision, soon after a person has died. The estate tax lawyers at Romano & Sumner are able to answer your questions and file an estate tax return, if necessary.”

Estate Planning Lawyers Assisting Families in the Sugar Land, TX Area with Estate Tax Returns

An estate tax return is a separate return from the Form 1040 income tax returns most of us are accustomed to. In fact, the rules governing estate taxes are found in an altogether different sub chapter of the internal revenue code. As result, the tax professional filing an estate tax return must be accustomed to the complex rules governing such returns.

If a loved one has passed away, you should ask your probate lawyer the following questions:

  • Is an estate tax return necessary?
  • Should I file an estate tax return regardless?


Is an estate tax return necessary?

Generally, each individual has a federal estate tax exemption amount of $5.45 million (as of 2016). This means an individual does not owe estate taxes unless their net worth is over $5.45 million at their date of death. Keep in mind that in computing your net worth, the IRS considers all of your property, including real estate, financial accounts, life insurance pay outs to your loved ones, retirement accounts, and your interest in closely held businesses. Additionally, the $5.45 threshold is lowered in the event you have gifted substantially during your lifetime.

If your estate is worth more than the exemption amount, federal law requires you to file an estate tax return within 9 months of your date of death. Our attorneys are happy to assist you in deciding whether an estate tax return is necessary.

Should I file an estate tax return regardless?

Even if your loved one’s net worth was below the $5.45 million exemption amount, it is often advantageous to file an estate tax return if the deceased is survived by a spouse. This type of return, known as a “portability return,” is beneficial in that it transfers the deceased spouse’s $5.45 million exemption to the surviving spouse, giving him/her an exemption amount of $10.9 million. When the second spouse passes away, his/her estate will not owe estate taxes unless their net worth is over $10.9 million! A portability return gives the surviving spouse’s net worth room to grow during their remaining life with less worry of estate taxes upon their own death. As a general rule of thumb, portability returns are common and advantageous when one spouse passes away with a net worth of over $2 million.

As with ordinary estate tax returns, a portability return must be filed within 9 months of a decedent’s death. Please contact the Sugar land estate planning attorneys at Romano & Sumner if you have any questions regarding filing either type of estate return.

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Sugar Land, TX 77479
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Romano & Sumner, LLC is proud to serve these Texas areas

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The Woodlands | Sugar Land | Baytown | Conroe | Katy | Friendswood | Pearland | League City | Richmond | Rosenberg | Spring | Humble | Kingwood | Clear Lake City | Stafford | Jersey Village | Cypress | Missouri City

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