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Changes in Estate Tax Laws from 2010

Big changes in 2010 for estate taxes

2011 is a new year, and for those concerned with estate planning (which should be everyone!), it brings new regulations regarding estate taxes. This is a good news/bad news scenario: while the changes to tax law from 2010 are not as dramatic as they could have been, there are still serious taxes facing those with larger estates, and potentially even larger taxes coming in a few years.

Here five important changes to estate tax laws that you should be aware of when assessing your estate plan for 2011:

  1. There is an estate tax, but not as high as many feared. At 35%, it is not as high as it was in 2001.
  2. The personal exemption amount is higher than it was before at $5 million.
  3. Gift tax has been reunified with estate tax, allowing everyone to have a $5 million gift tax exclusion.
  4. Spouses are allowed to pool their estate and gift exemptions for a total of $10 million per couple.
  5. The generation skipping transfer tax exemption is $5 million for 2011, to be indexed for inflation in 2012.

Proceed cautiously

All of these changes will only apply for the next two years, which means that it may not be in your best interest to make dramatic changes to an existing estate plan because you may need to change it again based on what the government decides in 2012. Consult the staff at Northern Virginia Trusts and Estates today to find out how these changes may impact your loved ones and to make any necessary changes or updates to your estate plan.