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What Is It?

Marital Trust Used In Conjunction With Bypass Trust to Minimize Estate Taxes and Provide for Children

A marital trust (also known as an A trust) is a type of trust that is used by married couples, usually in conjunction with a bypass trust, to minimize federal estate tax, allow the surviving spouse to benefit from family wealth during his or her continuing life and to ensure assets ultimately pass to individuals specified by the deceased spouse.

Typically, a marital trust and a bypass trust will be used by married couples who expect to have assets in excess of the federal applicable exclusion amount (the amount that can be sheltered from federal gift and estate tax by the unified credit) at the death of the first spouse. A married couple who set up both the marital and bypass trusts increase the likelihood that the applicable exclusion amounts of both spouses can be fully utilized, thus maximizing the amount that can pass to heirs and other beneficiaries free from federal estate tax.

Caution: This may not be the proper strategy for some married couples. A tax law passed in 2001 replaced the state death credit with a deduction starting in 2005. As a result, many of the states that imposed a death tax equal to the credit, decoupled their tax systems, imposing a stand-alone death tax. Many of these states allow an exemption that is less than the federal exemption. This may leave some couples vulnerable to higher state death taxation. See your financial professional for more information.

Tip: In 2011 and later years, the unused basic exclusion of a deceased spouse is portable and may allow you and your spouse to take full advantage of the estate tax applicable exclusion amount without using a bypass trust.

Ownership of Marital Assets Should Be Divided Between Husband and Wife

Typically, a married couple who wish to set up marital and bypass trusts should first divide their assets so that each spouse owns an equal amount of assets in his or her own name. If one spouse owns all of the assets or if the married couple owns all of their assets jointly, the couple may not be able to utilize the applicable exclusion amounts of both spouses. Once the assets are split, the couple will set up both bypass and marital trusts. Enough assets from the estate of the first spouse to die can be transferred to the bypass trust to fully use his or her applicable exclusion amount.

The surviving spouse may be given certain rights and limited control over the assets in the bypass trust. He or she may receive income from the trust or be given the power to invade the trust principal for his or her health, education, support, and maintenance purposes. The surviving spouse may also be given a limited power of appointment over the bypass trust, meaning he or she can be given the right to direct the assets in the trust to a limited class of beneficiaries excluding him or herself, his or her estate, his or her creditors, or the creditors of his or her estate.

Assets Not Transferred to Bypass Trust Will Fund Marital Trust

The assets that are not transferred to the bypass trust may be used to fund the marital trust, and the assets in the marital trust will be included in the gross estate of the second spouse to die. However, because of the unlimited marital deduction, the assets that are transferred to the marital trust will not be taxed at the death of the first spouse. The estate taxes due on these assets will be postponed until the surviving spouse dies. The surviving spouse may also utilize his or her applicable exclusion amount to protect some or all of the assets in the marital trust from the estate tax.

Many Marital Trusts Will Be Set Up As Qualified Terminable Interest Property (Qtip) Trusts

In many cases, the marital trust will be set up as a QTIP trust. With a QTIP, the surviving spouse must receive all income from the trust for his or her lifetime. However, the first spouse to die can then designate in the trust instrument to whom the assets will go when the surviving spouse dies.

This type of trust is often used if the spouses are concerned that the surviving spouse will remarry or if one or both spouses have children from a previous marriage to whom they would like some or all the assets to pass. Thus, by using both marital and bypass trusts, a married couple can utilize each of their applicable exclusion amounts, thereby sheltering up to $23,160,000 (in 2020) from estate taxes.

Caution: In other cases, however (as with the power of appointment trust), a marital trust will allow the surviving spouse to withdraw the principal in the trust at any time so that he or she has the option of either leaving the assets in the trust or taking them out. With a power of appointment trust, the surviving spouse can also designate to whom the trust assets will pass upon his or her death. In such cases, the husband and wife generally use the trust to provide creditor protection or professional management of assets while minimizing estate taxes.

When Can It Be Used?

Married Couple Should Expect to Have Assets In Excess of Applicable Exclusion Amount At Death of First Spouse Before Setting Up Marital Trust

Typically, only married couples who expect to have assets in excess of the applicable exclusion amount should incur the expense and time to set up marital and bypass trusts. Married couples who have assets below the applicable exclusion amount will generally have joint wills in which all of their assets are left to one another outright or will own all assets jointly. Either way, the surviving spouse will own all of the assets upon the death of the first spouse. If the total value of the assets in the surviving spouse's estate is below the applicable exclusion amount, the surviving spouse's estate will not incur estate taxes upon his or her death.

Example(s): For instance, you and your spouse have assets in excess of your combined applicable exclusion amounts. Both you and your spouse would like to minimize estate taxes that will be due at your respective deaths. You would also like your three children to inherit all of your assets. Your estate planner suggests setting up bypass and marital trusts.

Example(s): When the first spouse dies, sufficient assets will be transferred to the bypass trust to completely utilize his or her applicable exclusion amount. Providing that it is properly drafted, the bypass trust will not be included in the estate of the surviving spouse. The remaining assets will then go to the marital trust (usually set up as a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust). Because of the unlimited marital deduction, these assets passing to the surviving spouse in the QTIP trust will not be taxed at the death of the first spouse. The assets in the QTIP trust will, however, be included in the gross estate of the surviving spouse upon his or her death. The surviving spouse can use his or her applicable exclusion amount to shelter some or all of these assets from estate tax. The first spouse to die can specify in the trust instrument that the assets in the QTIP trust will pass to the couple's three children at the death of the surviving spouse. By utilizing the two trusts, you may be able to utilize the applicable exclusion amounts of both you and your spouse.

Tip: In 2011 and later years, the unused basic exclusion of a deceased spouse is portable and may allow you and your spouse to take full advantage of the estate tax applicable exclusion amount without using a bypass trust.

Ownership of Assets of Husband and Wife Should Be Equalized Before Setting Up Marital and Bypass Trusts

If a married couple expects that their combined assets will be above the applicable exclusion amount when the first spouse dies, they should plan to divide ownership of their assets so that each spouse owns approximately one-half of the assets in his or her own name. You do not want to own the assets jointly with your spouse. If you do, then upon the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse will own all of the assets.

This may result in the surviving spouse's estate being overqualified (exceeding the applicable exclusion amount), and the applicable exclusion amount of the first spouse to die will be wasted because there will be no assets in his or her estate to which the exclusion can be applied. If one spouse owns all of the assets by himself or herself and the other spouse dies first, then again the surviving spouse's estate may be overqualified and the applicable exclusion amount of the first spouse to die will be wasted.

Example(s): For instance, you expect that you and your spouse would have assets of $23,160,000 if one spouse dies in 2020. You currently own all of the assets jointly. Your estate planner suggests setting up a bypass and marital trust to minimize estate taxes and also suggests splitting up ownership of the assets. If the assets are split evenly ($11,580,000 owned by each spouse), then an amount equal to the applicable exclusion amount can be transferred to the bypass trust at the death of the first spouse to die. The remaining assets can then be transferred to the marital trust. The assets in the marital trust will be included in your surviving spouse's gross estate. However, the surviving spouse can use his or her applicable exclusion amount to offset (partially or fully) estate taxes assessed against the amount in the marital trust. By splitting your assets and setting up the two trusts, you may be able to utilize the applicable exclusion amounts of both you and your spouse.

Marital Trust Is Not Necessary to Minimize Federal Estate Taxes

It is not necessary to use a marital trust to minimize federal estate taxes. Instead of using a marital trust, one spouse could simply leave the assets directly to the surviving spouse. Those assets would pass to the surviving spouse's estate tax free due to application of the unlimited marital deduction and will be included in the gross estate of the surviving spouse. A marital trust can be useful where one or both of the spouses is concerned that the surviving spouse will remarry.

The first spouse to die may not want his or her assets to go to the new spouse, especially if there are children from the first marriage. The first spouse to die may also be concerned that the surviving spouse will squander the assets and nothing will be left for the children. If you set up a QTIP trust, the surviving spouse can receive all income for life from the trust and you can specify that your children will receive the assets remaining in the trust upon your surviving spouse's death.

Example(s): For instance, you and your spouse have been married for 10 years and have three children. You have approximately $23,160,000 in assets, the ownership of which is equally divided between you and your spouse. Both you and your spouse would like your assets to eventually go to your children, so you should set up both a bypass trust and a marital trust.

Example(s): At the death of the first spouse, enough assets could be transferred to the bypass trust to fully utilize the applicable exclusion amount of the deceased spouse. The remaining assets could then be transferred to the marital trust (usually set up as a QTIP). The surviving spouse would receive all income from the trust for his or her lifetime. At the death of the surviving spouse, all assets in the marital trust would pass to the three children. If you and your spouse were not concerned about the assets eventually going to your children, then it might not be necessary to set up a marital trust. Instead, any assets remaining after funding the bypass trust could simply be left outright to the surviving spouse.

Marital Trust Can Be One of Three Different Trusts

There are three types of marital trusts that will qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. A popular type of marital trust is the QTIP trust. In a QTIP, the surviving spouse must receive all income from the trust at least annually, and he or she must have the power to force the trustee to make the assets in the trust income-producing. However, the surviving spouse need not be given the power to direct the ultimate disposition of the assets in the trust, which is why this type of trust is so popular.

A second type of trust that will qualify for the unlimited marital deduction is the power of appointment trust. With this type of trust, the surviving spouse is given the right to appoint the assets in the trust during his or her lifetime or at death to anyone including himself or herself, his or her creditors, his or her estate, or the creditors of his or her estate. As with the QTIP trust, the surviving spouse must be given all income annually from the trust and must have the right to force the trustee to make the assets in the trust income-producing.

A third type of trust that qualifies for the marital deduction is the estate trust. With an estate trust, the trustee is not required to pay income to the surviving spouse so he or she does not have to be given the right to force the trustee to make the trust assets income-producing. However, the assets remaining in the trust along with any accumulated income must be paid to the surviving spouse's estate upon his or her death. Because there is no requirement that the surviving spouse be given the power to force the trustee to make the trust assets income-producing, the estate trust is a good choice if you want to put non-income-producing assets in a marital trust, or if you want the trustee to invest the assets for the primary benefit of the remainder persons.

Executor Must Make Qtip Election on Federal Estate Tax Return

If you want to transfer assets to a QTIP trust at the time of your death, the executor of your will must make an affirmative QTIP election on your federal estate tax return to qualify the trust for the marital deduction. Once the QTIP election has been made, it is irrevocable. If the executor lists the QTIP property on schedule M on your federal estate tax return, this will be considered making an affirmative QTIP election on the return.

Strengths

Use of Qualified Terminable Interest Property (Qtip) Trust Important If You Want Assets to Pass to Specific Individuals

The use of a QTIP allows the first spouse to die to specify in the trust instrument to whom the assets in the QTIP will pass at the death of the surviving spouse. If the first spouse to die simply left all of his or her assets outright to the other spouse, the surviving spouse may leave those assets to a new spouse or new children. The surviving spouse may also spend or squander all the assets. Leaving assets in a QTIP trust for the surviving spouse allows him or her to benefit from the assets in the form of a lifetime right to income while ensuring that the assets ultimately pass to the individuals specified by the decedent spouse.

Use of Marital and Bypass Trusts Allows a Married Couple to Benefit From Family Wealth While Minimizing Estate Taxes

Another reason for using a marital and a bypass trust is to allow both spouses to benefit from the family wealth while minimizing federal estate taxes on their combined estates. By allocating some of the assets to the marital trust and some of the assets to the bypass trust, the applicable exclusion amounts of both spouses can be used to leave more to their heirs free from federal estate taxes.

Example(s): For instance, you and your spouse expect to have a gross estate of $23,160,000 at the death of the first spouse. You have three minor children, whom you would like to inherit all of your assets upon the death of the surviving spouse. On the advice of your estate planning attorney, you have equally divided the ownership of the assets between you and your spouse. Your attorney has drafted both a QTIP and a bypass trust. At the death of the first spouse, sufficient assets are transferred to the bypass trust to fully use that spouse's applicable exclusion amount. The rest of the assets are transferred to the QTIP. The surviving spouse receives all income for life from the QTIP and your children are named as the beneficiaries of this trust. At the death of the surviving spouse, all of the assets in the QTIP pass to your children. The value of the QTIP trust will be included in the estate of the surviving spouse. However, he or she can use his or her applicable exclusion amount to partially or fully offset federal estate taxes due on those assets. By using the two trusts, you have allowed the surviving spouse to benefit from the family wealth (through lifetime income), minimized federal estate taxes to be paid at the death of each of you and your spouse, and ensured that your children will inherit the bulk of your assets.

Tip: In 2011 and later years, the unused basic exclusion of a deceased spouse is portable and may allow you and your spouse to take full advantage of the estate tax applicable exclusion amount without using a bypass trust.

Marital Trust May Be Used to Maximize Use of Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) Tax Exemption of Both Spouses

In recent years, bypass and QTIP trusts have been designed to maximize the couple's ability to use the generation-skipping transfer tax exemption of both spouses. The GST tax applies to a transfer from one individual to another who is two or more generations below the transferor. The GST tax rate is 40 percent (in 2020), and this tax is in addition to any other gift or estate taxes that may be due on the transfer. Each individual has a lifetime exemption from the GST tax ($11,580,000 in 2020, $11,400,000 in 2019).

The exemption is often allocated between the bypass trust and the QTIP trust so that the bypass trust is fully exempt from GST tax. By making the allocation this way, it becomes more likely that both the husband and wife can fully utilize their GST tax exemptions to leave up to $23,160,000 to skip persons in 2020 without incurring the GST tax.

Caution: Unlike the gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount in 2011 and later years, the GST tax exemption is not portable for spouses.

Tradeoffs

Attorney Should Be Hired to Draft Marital Trust Documents

You should seek the advice of a competent, experienced estate planning attorney regarding the estate planning and tax implications of setting up a marital trust and a bypass trust. An estate planning attorney should also be hired to draft the documents necessary to create and fund the trusts.

Trustee Will Be Needed

You will need to appoint a trustee for the marital trust. A trustee will be needed to manage assets of a trust from the time it is funded (either during your lifetime or upon your death) until it terminates. Many people appoint a professional trustee (a bank trust department or professional fiduciary) who will have to be compensated for the services provided. Typically, a professional trustee receives an annual management fee of 1 percent or more of the assets under management.

Surviving Spouse May Not Have Full Control Over Assets In Marital Trust

A surviving spouse may not have full control over the assets that are transferred to a marital trust. If the marital trust is set up as a qualified terminable interest property trust (QTIP), for example, then although the surviving spouse must receive all the income from the trust for his or her remaining lifetime, he or she cannot be given the right to direct the disposition of the trust assets upon his or her death. For many surviving spouses, not having full control over assets that the couple have spent their lifetimes accumulating is a very unpalatable result.

Tip: There are exceptions. For example, if the trust is set up as a power of appointment trust, the surviving spouse retains control over the assets in the marital trust and may dispose of them as he or she wishes, both during his or her life and at death.

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Grantor Cannot Require Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust (Qtip) (or Power of Appointment Trust) to Hold Non-Income-Producing Assets

Another tradeoff to setting up a marital trust is that with certain types of marital trusts, the creator of the trust cannot dictate what types of assets can be held in the trust. With a QTIP, for example, the surviving spouse has to be given the right to require the trustee of the trust to invest in income-producing property. The surviving spouse is entitled to all income from the trust for his or her lifetime.

Example(s): Your estate planning attorney recommends that you and your spouse set up both a QTIP and a bypass trust to minimize estate taxes due upon your deaths. Your children are the remainderpersons of the QTIP trust. You would like your trustee to invest the QTIP so as to maximize the remainder that will pass to your children upon the death of your surviving spouse. To accomplish this goal, you would like the QTIP document to contain a provision that allows the trustee to invest only in growth stocks that pay no dividends. Unfortunately, with a QTIP, you are not allowed to dictate the types of investments that will be held by the trust. The surviving spouse must have the right to require the trustee to invest in income-producing assets.

Grantor Loses Power Over Disposition of Assets With Power of Appointment

If you decide to set up the marital trust as a power of appointment trust, you lose the power to dictate where the assets will ultimately go when the surviving spouse dies. If you have children or other beneficiaries that you would like to receive your assets upon the death of the surviving spouse, you should consider alternatives to the power of appointment trust. In order to qualify for the unlimited marital deduction, a power of appointment trust must grant the surviving spouse a general power of appointment over the trust assets. With this power, the surviving spouse can use the trust assets for his or her own benefit while he or she is alive and may transfer them to creditors or others upon his or her death.

Tip: Some couples may prefer the power of appointment trust over a QTIP because of the control it gives the surviving spouse over the assets in the trust. With a power of appointment trust, the surviving spouse can use the trust assets as he or she sees fit during his or her lifetime and can dispose of them as he or she wishes at death. For many couples, this flexibility outweighs the advantages of a QTIP, which gives the surviving spouse little or no control over the disposition of the trust assets.

How to Do It

Attorney Should Be Hired to Draft Marital Trust and to Transfer Assets to Trust

You should hire an experienced and competent estate planning attorney to draft the marital trust document. There can be some fairly complicated tax and estate planning issues that need to be decided before setting up a marital trust, so you should consult with your estate planning attorney about these issues. Furthermore, if you fund the trust during your lifetime, you may also need an attorney to transfer title of the assets to the marital trust.

Individual or Institution Should Be Trustee

If your estate is large, you should consider hiring a professional trustee, either a corporate trustee (such as a bank trust department or a private trust company) or an individual who is a professional fiduciary. Your estate planning attorney should be able to recommend several competent trustees to you. The trustee of the trust has two primary responsibilities.

First, the trustee must manage and invest the trust assets to generate income for the income beneficiary. Second, the trustee must attempt to preserve the principal for the remainder beneficiaries (i.e., the individuals who will ultimately receive the trust assets). If you have substantial assets, you should hire an individual or institution that has experience in managing these types of trusts.

Beneficiary and Remainder Beneficiary Must Be Chosen

You must choose the income beneficiary and remainder beneficiaries (those individuals who will receive the assets upon the death of the income beneficiary) for the marital trust. If the marital trust is set up as a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust or as a power of appointment trust, then the surviving spouse must receive all the income from the trust for the remainder of his or her life. Typically, the remainder beneficiaries will be the children from either your current marriage or a previous marriage.

Example(s): Your estate planning attorney has recommended that you set up both a marital trust and a bypass trust to utilize the applicable exclusion amounts (the amount that can be sheltered from federal gift and estate tax by the unified credit) of both you and your spouse. He or she recommends that the marital trust be set up as a QTIP. Upon your death, enough assets will be transferred to the bypass trust to fully use your applicable exclusion amount available at your death. The remainder of your assets will then fund the QTIP. Your spouse will have to receive all income from the trust for the remainder of his or her lifetime and your children can be named as the remainder beneficiaries to receive the assets in the trust upon the death of your spouse. In this manner, you have prevented your assets from ultimately passing to someone else if your spouse remarries.

Executor Must Make Affirmative Qtip Election on Estate Tax Return

If you plan to transfer assets at your death to a QTIP trust, your executor must make an affirmative, irrevocable QTIP election on the federal estate tax return in order to qualify the assets in the trust for the unlimited marital deduction. Your executor can make either a full or partial QTIP election with respect to those assets. Typically, your estate planning attorney will insert language in your will directing your executor as to what portion of your estate should be transferred to the QTIP trust.

Your attorney may insert language in your will stating that the executor should make a QTIP election for that portion of your estate that will reduce federal estate taxes to zero. In other words, sufficient assets will be transferred to your bypass trust so that your applicable exclusion amount available at your death will be completely utilized. The remainder of your assets will then be transferred to the QTIP, zeroing out your estate tax liability.

One alternative that some estate planning attorneys recommend is to give the executor the discretion to include enough assets in the estate of the first spouse to die so that some estate taxes will be paid in that estate. It may make sense for the estate of the first person to die to actually pay some estate taxes at a relatively low marginal estate tax rate rather than overload the surviving spouse's estate where the marginal estate tax rate may be much higher.

Tip: In 2013 and later years, a federal gift and estate tax rate of 40 percent generally applies to taxable amounts in excess of the applicable exclusion amount. In those years, there may be no advantage to equalizing estates in order to avoid graduated tax rates.

Tax Considerations

Income Tax

Income from Assets Transferred to Revocable Living Trust Will Be Taxed to Grantor of Trust

If you transfer assets to a marital revocable living trust (one that is set up while you are alive), then you will be subject to income tax on any income generated from those assets. Because the transfers are not irrevocable transfers to the trust, you are still considered the owner of the assets for income tax purposes. After your death, the income from the trust will be taxed either to the trust or to the beneficiaries, depending on whether the income is paid out to the beneficiaries or retained by the trust.

Example(s): You set up a revocable living trust and transfer $500,000 to the trust. The trust generates $30,000 per year in income. You must include this amount in your adjusted gross income each year. After you die, the beneficiaries will be taxed on the trust income if it is distributed to them. If the trust retains the income, then the trust will be taxed on the income.

Gift and Estate Tax

No Gift Taxes Are Due for Transfers to Revocable Living Trust

Because you retain the right to terminate a revocable living trust, no gift taxes are due at the time of the transfer to the trust. The assets in the revocable living trust will be included in your gross estate for estate tax purposes when you die.

Gift Taxes May Be Due on Transfers to Irrevocable Trust

Gift taxes may be due if you make transfers to an irrevocable trust during your lifetime. Any gift tax due may be offset by your applicable exclusion amount ($11,580,000 in 2020, $11,400,000 in 2019), to the extent it is available.

Caution: Any portion of your applicable exclusion amount you use during your lifetime reduces the amount that will be available at your death.

After Death, Assets Going to Marital Trust Will Qualify for Unlimited Marital Deduction

After your death, assets transferred by your executor to a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) marital trust will qualify for the unlimited marital deduction as long as a proper election is made to treat the assets as QTIP property. Assets transferred to a power of appointment trust or an estate trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse automatically qualify for the unlimited marital deduction.

You can leave an unlimited amount of assets to your spouse in one of these marital trusts and not incur estate taxes at your death. However, the assets remaining in the marital trust on your surviving spouse's death will be included in his or her taxable estate. Your spouse can then use his or her estate tax applicable exclusion amount to shelter either a portion or all of the assets from estate taxes.

Questions & Answers

What Size Estate Should a Married Couple Have Before They Consider Using a Marital Trust?

Usually, a married couple should have assets in excess of the applicable exclusion amount before considering the use of a marital trust. One of the main purposes of a marital trust (or a marital trust used in conjunction with a bypass trust) is to permit utilization of each spouse's applicable exclusion amount in order to maximize the amount that can be left free from federal estate taxes at the death of both spouses. If you expect that your combined estate will be below the applicable exclusion amount, then there may be no need to use a marital trust.

Should Spouses Who Expect to Have an Estate In Excess of The Applicable Exclusion Amount Have Joint Ownership of Their Assets?

No. In general, a married couple with assets in excess of the applicable exclusion amount should not own their assets jointly. If they do, the surviving spouse will automatically be the owner of all the assets upon the death of the other spouse. The surviving spouse's estate may be overloaded and the applicable exclusion amount of the first spouse to die will have been wasted as there would be no assets in his or her estate to which the exclusion could be applied. Rather, the married couple should split up ownership of their assets and then use both a marital and a bypass trust.

Are There Different Types of Trusts That Can Be Set Up As A Marital Trust?

Yes. There are three types of trusts that can be set up as a marital trust. One of the most commonly used trusts is a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust, where the surviving spouse must be given all income from the trust for his or her lifetime. However, the creator of the trust can designate in the trust instrument who will receive the trust assets when the surviving spouse dies. The surviving spouse must be given the right to all of the income for his or her lifetime and the power to force the trustee to make the assets in the QTIP trust income producing. All of the assets in the QTIP trust will be included in the surviving spouse's gross estate for estate tax purposes.

A second type of marital trust is the power of appointment trust. Here, the surviving spouse must be given all income from the trust for life and must also have a general power of appointment over the trust assets. Like a QTIP, the surviving spouse must have the right to force the trustee to make the assets income producing. All trust assets will be included in the surviving spouse's gross estate.

The final type of marital trust is the estate trust, where the surviving spouse need not receive all income from the trust during his or her lifetime. However, the trust assets, including any accumulated income, must be payable to the surviving spouse's estate upon his or her death. The assets in an estate trust do not have to be income producing. Thus, trust assets could be undeveloped land or growth stocks.

Does It Ever Make Sense for a Married Couple to Pay Estate Taxes At the Death of the First Spouse?

Yes. There may be situations where a married couple will actually be better off to pay some estate taxes at the death of the first spouse. The top marginal federal estate tax rate is 40 percent in 2020. If the marginal rate in the estate of the first spouse is low, it may be advisable to include enough assets in his or her gross estate so that some federal estate taxes are assessed at the lower marginal rate.

These assets will then not be included in the surviving spouse's gross estate where they might be subject to tax at the higher rate. If the surviving spouse is likely to have substantial assets pushing his or her estate into a higher marginal estate tax bracket, the couple may be better off paying taxes at the lower tax rate at the death of the first spouse rather than overloading the surviving spouse's estate.

Tip: In 2013 and later years, a federal gift and estate tax rate of 40 percent generally applies to taxable amounts in excess of the applicable exclusion amount. In those years, there may be no advantage to equalizing estates in order to avoid graduated tax rates.

 

 

This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of  The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.

 

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