Estate Taxes and Living Trusts

Estate Taxes and Living Trusts

Estate planning is the organization of your financial and personal interests, so your property can be distributed to your family as easily and inexpensively as possible. Estate planning can also limit the amount of taxes your estate will have to pay. The following is some general information about estate taxes:

  • The federal estate tax, if any, is imposed on the transfer of a person's property when that person dies
  • The taxable estate is the total value of all property transferred at death (the "gross estate"), with deductions for specific types of expenses, debts and transfers
  • The gross estate can contain all kinds of property interests, including life insurance, jointly owned property, and (in some cases) property the deceased person gave away before he or she died.
  • If a decedent's gross estate exceeds a certain value, currently $5,000,000, a federal estate tax return must be filed within nine months of a person's death, although an automatic six-month extension is available.

If you have additional questions about the tax implications of a living trust or about estate taxes generally, LegalZoom recommends that you consult with a licensed tax professional.

  • Introduction to Living Trusts
    A living trust lets you control who receives your assets after you die. However, this isn't the only reason to create a living trust. A living trust can offer many benefits to its creator. For example, a living trust can help your beneficiaries avoid the probate-related expenses and delay normally...
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  • Definition of a Living Trust
    A trust is an arrangement in which one or more people manage or take care of property for someone else's benefit. A living trust is a trust that is created during your lifetime. In other words, while you are still alive, you transfer title to your property from your name to that of the trustee of...
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  • Comparing Living Trusts and Last Wills
    Although living trusts and last wills are both used to distribute property to beneficiaries, there are some important differences between them. One of the key benefits of a living trust is that it limits the probate court's involvement in property distribution. Unlike a last will, which can be tied...
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  • Probate, and Reasons to Avoid It
    Probate is a court-supervised process used to validate your will and distribute your property. The process takes anywhere from six months to over two years to complete, and may require that lawyers or other professionals be hired. Even if you die without a will, if your estate's value exceeds a...
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  • Transferring Property into a Living Trust
    You must transfer property into a living trust to take advantage of the trust's benefits. The person who transfers property into a trust is called the "grantor." In general, you should put your most valuable property in the trust. This may include your:
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  • Real Estate Placed in a Living Trust
    If you are the sole owner of a piece of property, you can include that property in your living trust. You will need to change the property's title to reflect the ownership change.
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