Effective January 1, 2013, the Federal Estate, Gift and Generation-Skipping Tax Exemptions are all $5,250,000. Not only is this a relief to most tax payers, the Estate Tax Exemption is portable up to $10,500,000, which means that a surviving spouse can use their late husband or wife’s unused exemption up to their total marital exemption amount of $10,500,000.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 also changed the Annual Gift Exclusion to $14,000. During 2013 gifts to any one person during a given year up to $14,000 are not taxable. Any additional amount to one person may be gifted and credited against the maximum exemption, but when doing so you should seek assistance from your accountant to file a gift tax return as necessary.
The new provisions keep the vast majority of my clients and most Americans from requiring extensive trusts in their Wills or otherwise, but it does not eliminate the need for well-constructed estate planning documents. Everyone with minor children in Georgia still needs a trust within their Will and to make sure the proper beneficiaries are named on assets that don’t pass through Probate.
In Georgia, as I have said previously, it is not necessary in most cases to avoid probate, but it is necessary to have a well written comprehensive plan for probate. A proper plan gives you peace of mind and your survivors the tools needed to manage your estate appropriately and according to your wishes.