Saving Estate Tax Filing Fees Not Always the Best Idea, Elder Law Attorney, Woodstock, GA

The overwhelming majority of estates are not large enough to require payment of the federal estate tax and are therefore not required to file the estate tax forms. For most of them, it is wise not to waste money on any professional preparation fees for filing the forms. However, there is an important exception.

When a spouse passes away, the entire estate can be passed to the surviving spouse tax-free. If the deceased spouse’s estate is worth more than $5.43 million, then an estate tax form must be filed, even though no tax will have to be paid. However, if the estate is worth less than that amount, then no estate tax form is required to be filed. Most people will therefore decline to file the form, because they do not wish to pay any fees associated with doing so. As the Albuquerque Journal points out in “Relaxed estate tax law requires warning,” some surviving spouses should file the estate tax form even when the estate is less than $5.43 million.

The issue is that a surviving spouse can elect to take the deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption as well as their own. Thus, the surviving spouse’s estate will be able to protect twice the amount of assets. This is only possible if the estate tax form is filed and the election made on the form. What this means is that if there is a reasonable chance that the surviving spouse’s eventual estate will be worth more than $5.43 million, the estate tax forms should be filed for the deceased spouse’s estate. If they are not, then the surviving spouse’s estate may have to pay unnecessary taxes.

Reference: Albuquerque Journal (July 13, 2015) “Relaxed estate tax law requires warning.”

Hear From Our Clients

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce

Josh Nelson, and his staff, have been amazingly helpful to our family. The ins and outs of nursing homes, the rules and regulations that govern Medicare and Medicaid are daunting and the folks at Nelson Elder Care Law have been informative, responsive, and above all, empathetic. I cannot emphasize enough how their service has taken a weight off of our shoulders especially during a world pandemic that has targeted nursing homes across our country. I highly recommend retaining Josh and his firm!

- Marcia

I had a simple legal question to them that I needed answered and they very helpful in giving me the information I needed. I highly recommend them and will reach out to them if I need more advice or assistance. Thank you for taking your time to just answer a couple of questions I had!

- Ben