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Estate Planning Information

Estate and Gift Taxes

If you give someone money or property during your life, you may be subject to federal gift tax. The money and property you own when you die (your estate) may be subject to federal estate tax. The purpose of this web page is to give you a general understanding of when these taxes apply and when they do not. It explains how much money or property you can give away during your lifetime or leave to your heirs at your death before any tax will be owed.

Most gifts are not subject to the gift tax and most estates are not subject to the estate tax. (Only about 2% of all estates are subject to the estate tax).

Generally, you do not need to file a gift tax return unless you give someone, other than your spouse, money or property worth more than the annual exclusion ($11,000 in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005; $12,000 beginning in 2006) for that year. Although a return may be required, no actual gift tax will become payable until the cumulative lifetime taxable gifts exceed the applicable exclusion amount. The donor is primarily responsible for the payment of the Gift Tax.

To reemphasize: Most relatively simple estates (cash, publicly traded securities, small amounts of other, easily valued assets and no special deductions or elections or jointly held property) with a total value under $1,000,000 and a date of death in 2002 or 2003 and $1,500,000 and a date of death in 2004 or 2005 do not require the filing of an estate tax return. To find out more, refer to Estate and Gift Tax Introduction.