Congress has created a temporary “window” – between now and the end of 2012 – in which many people can save a lot of money in estate and gift taxes.
You might be able to take advantage of this opportunity by transferring significant assets to a trust. But as they say on TV, hurry – this is a limited-time offer from the federal government.
During 2011 and 2012, the federal estate tax exemption will be $5 million, meaning the tax will be applied only to estates that are larger than that. Importantly, the lifetime exemption from the federal gift tax has also been raised, from $1 million to $5 million.
The gift tax applies to transfers of assets. In general, any person can give any person up to $13,000 a year without there being any gift tax. If you give someone more than $13,000 in a calendar year, then the excess is subject to gift tax.
In a recent case, a Texas man inherited $400,000 in cash from his aunt. The man’s ex-wife went to court and claimed that as a result, his child support payments should be increased.
The Texas Court of Appeals agreed with the ex-wife. It said that even though the $400,000 wasn’t wages or earnings, it was still a “resource” that had to be considered in determining how much the father had to pay for his two children.