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The Domain of Estate Taxfrom:
When the death of an individual results in property or belongings being passed on to another individual or entity, estate taxes can be levied upon those assets. Because the laws dealing with estate taxes change so frequently, the amount of taxes levied can vary greatly depending on the year of death. For example, some years require the estate to be valued at no more than 1 million dollars in order to be exempt from estate taxes. In other years, the number runs at 3.5 million dollars. There are also a number of other guidelines in place that determine who can be taxed, when they can be taxed and how.
First and foremost, an executor is established to carry out the legal obligations of the estate. This can be a relative or whoever is specified in the individual's will. Should it be determined that there are estate taxes owed, the executor of the estate will have nine months in which to submit an estate return to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS will then calculate the correct amount of tax owed. Documents such as death certificates and a last will and testament must be submitted, as well as any other financial documents that can ensure the proper amount of tax will be levied. Some states also levy estate taxes on assets as well.
Luckily, the vast majority of the population rarely ever finds itself dealing with the issue of estate taxes. Small businesses or farming operations are often given enough assessments and deductions to clear beneficiaries from paying such dues. The few farms and businesses that still meet the requirements for estate taxes are given a generous number of years to make good on what they owe. For the most part, this tax is what is called a transfer tax and it mostly applies to those largest and wealthiest of estates. It is a large source of revenue that has its supporters and its opposition.
Those setting up an estate would do well to consult a professional steeped in the finer points of estate taxes. The complexities of the system allow for the arrangement of many circumstances that keep estate taxes at bay. However, this is not guaranteed in every situation. Law firms, insurance agencies and banks all offer financial planning services, many of which focus on helping individuals lower or avoid any tax burden that might go with their estate planning. With the estate tax laws updating and changing as often as they do, it may be necessary to also update and change an existing will and testament from time to time.
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