Estate Planning

Questions About Estate Tax

How Do I Figure Out the Value of My Estate?

by Rania Combs

Whether you will be required to pay federal estate tax will depend on the value of your gross estate, minus your debts and liabilities. Estate tax is due on the portion of a net estate that exceeds the federal estate tax exemption amount.

Calculating the Gross Estate

The value of all your assets will be used to calculate your gross estate. These include:

  • real estate, including your home
  • cars, boats, airplanes
  • closely held business interests
  • bank accounts, including checking, savings, money market and CDs
  • investment accounts such as mutual funds
  • stocks and bonds
  • money owed to you at the time of your death, such as loans you’ve made, wages and bonuses or commissions
  • personal property, such as furniture, clothing, jewelry, antiques, art and books.
  • retirement accounts, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and annuities
  • death benefits from life insurance policies

Calculating Your Liabilities

To determine your net estate, you can subtract the following from your gross estate:

  • debts and expenses, such as mortgages, lines of credit, personal loans and credit card debt
  • expenses associated with the administration of your estate
  • certain medical expenses
  • funeral expenses
  • charitable gifts
  • transfers to a spouse who is a citizen of the United States

Your estate will be taxable if the value of your net estate is greater than the available federal tax exemption. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 sets the estate tax rate at 40 percent for individual estates valued at over $5 million, indexed for inflation.

About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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    August 11, 2010 at 7:56pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rania Combs and Alan Haley, Victoria L. Collier. Victoria L. Collier said: How Do I Figure Out the Value of My Estate? via @raniacombs […]