Minimizing the taxable portion of your estate and preserving your assets for your surviving loved ones is a key reason to create a solid estate plan. Tax-advantaged planning is important if you expect to leave significant wealth. While estates totaling less than $11.58 million are not subject to federal estate tax, the threshold for Illinois estate tax is $4 million.
These strategies can help you limit estate tax and maximize the inheritance you pass along to your spouse, children and grandchildren.
Give property to a surviving spouse
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, he or she can inherit your solely owned assets upon your death without paying estate tax. However, if your spouse also has significant sole assets, this could result in higher estate tax for your children once both parents are gone.
Consider gifts during your lifetime
You can provide any individual with a tax-free gift of up to $15,000 once a year. If you want to provide for your children and grandchildren, doing so with annual gifts during your lifetime can decrease the size of your taxable estate. In some circumstances, you may also be able to pay for a benefactor’s medical and tuition expenses directly without incurring estate or gift tax. If the children in question are minors, you can make these gifts to a custodian who manages the funds until children reach a designated age.
Create an irrevocable life insurance trust
By transferring assets to the ownership of a trust, they are no longer part of the taxable estate but can still pass to your beneficiaries after death. In addition, most life insurance trusts are not taxable. Without this type of trust, any life insurance proceeds that your survivors receive would fall within the estate and may be subject to estate tax.
In addition to these three strategies, individuals whose estates approach the taxable threshold can use other creative methods to limit the potential tax burden. This helps preserve a legacy for the next generation for those who wish to do so.