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Do estates have to pay both federal and state taxes?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2024 | Estate Planning

Estate taxes significantly influence the inheritance beneficiaries receive. In the United States, both federal and state governments can impose estate taxes. This makes estate planning complex but essential.

Federal estate taxes

The federal estate tax applies to estates exceeding a certain threshold. As of 2024, the federal estate tax exemption is $12.92 million per individual. Estates below this amount are exempt from federal estate taxes. Those exceeding it pay taxes at rates up to 40%. 

For example, if an estate’s value is $15 million, the first $12.92 million is exempt. However, the remaining $2.08 million is subject to federal estate taxes. The estate pays this tax before distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Massachusetts state estate taxes

Massachusetts also imposes its own estate tax. This estate tax is at a lower threshold than the federal level. The tax threshold is $1 million, meaning estates valued above this amount are subject to Massachusetts estate taxes. The tax rates range from 0.8% to 16%, depending on the estate’s value.

Practical advice for estate planning

Given the complexities of federal and state estate taxes, effective estate planning is crucial. You should consider these strategies when estate planning:

  • Utilize lifetime gifts: Reduce your taxable estate by gifting assets during your lifetime. The annual exclusion for gifts is $15,000 per recipient as of 2024.
  • Establish trusts: Use trusts to remove assets from your taxable estate and control distribution. Trusts like irrevocable life insurance trusts can offer significant advantages.
  • Charitable donations: Make charitable donations to reduce your taxable estate. Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) provide tax benefits while supporting causes.
  • Consult professionals: Work with estate planning attorneys. Professionals knowledgeable in federal and state tax laws can provide tailored strategies.

Preserving wealth through strategic planning

Estate taxes, both federal and state, impact the assets you are able to leave your loved ones. While you want to ensure you take care of your family after you’re gone, it can be challenging. Understanding the nuances of estate taxes allows for more strategic estate planning

Knowing the specific thresholds helps you balance tax obligations with preserving your legacy. This goes beyond just mitigating financial impact. It also helps safeguard your assets, providing stability and security for future generations.


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