When someone dies, estate taxes have to be paid if the estate is large enough. Under the current law, the federal estate tax exemption is $2 million. This means that no estate taxes will have to be paid on estates under $2 million and for couples, assets of less than $4 million would be exempt from estate taxes.
The exemption is set to increase to $3.5 million in 2009, disappear entirely in 2010, and revert back to $1 million in 2011.
Now that the Presidential candidates have been narrowed to McCain and Obama, where do they stand on this issue? John McCain is in favor of raising the exemption to $5 million. Senator Obama proposes a $3.5 million exemption. The other difference is that McCain would cut the tax rate from 45% to 15%. Obama is in favor of keeping the tax rate at 45%.
So it does appear that no matter which candidate is elected, the country will continue to see a federal estate tax exemption which will keep the majority of Americans from having to pay estate taxes upon their deaths. It has been estimated that in 2009, only 1 in 600 estates will owe estate taxes.
For couples to both take advantage of the exemption for estate taxes, they need a revocable living trust with appropriate language. There are many other advantages of a trust even if you are not concerned about estate taxes. If you need a trust and corollary documents prepared, contact us at Law Office of Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation to schedule a free in-house consultation.