If you have submitted a will for probate to the Martin County probate court, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the State of Florida does not exact an estate tax. This benefit does not mean, however, that assets are exempt from federal estate tax.
If you are concerned that you may be leaving your loved ones with less because of estate taxes, or if you are now administering a will and are worried about estate taxes, it would be wise to consult an attorney. Local counsel may be adept at issues involving estate tax in Palm City probate cases.
The regulations for probating a will in Palm City have been codified by the Florida Statutes and the Florida Probate Rules. Probate is a court-monitored process for ensuring that a deceased person’s wishes for their property are honored and that any valid creditors are paid.
In Palm City probate cases, the departed is often called the decedent. Those who are meant to receive the bequeathed property are frequently referred to as the beneficiaries.
Whether the decedent left a will or not, the probate court will officially appoint a personal representative to supervise matters relating to the estate. Some of the personal representative’s duties, in addition to valuing assets and distributing gifts to the beneficiaries, may include paying creditors and taxes.
Florida does not currently impose an estate tax on Palm City estates. However, the payment of any federal estate taxes owed by the estate is mandatory. In 2019, estates worth up to $11.4 million are exempt from payment of estate tax (ignoring the effect of any significant gifts made by the decedent during life). Estates in excess of that amount or those that made significant gifts during life may be subject to federal estate tax.
It is important to note that some Florida residents may still be affected by the estate tax laws of other states. For example, a Florida resident owning real property in Massachusetts may face a Massachusetts estate tax bill upon death based on the value of that property and its relationship to the overall size of the estate.
Gifts made during life of up to $15,000 per year to any person are exempt from gift tax. If gifts are made in excess of that amount in any given year, then the donor (i.e. the giver of the gift) is required to file a federal gift tax return Form 709. However, the donor may choose to allocate part of his/her Unified Credit amount (which shelters up to $11.4 million in 2019) to the gift so as to avoid the need for the donor to pay gift tax on the gift. Thus, high net worth residents of Martin County might wish to consider transferring some assets and heirlooms to loved ones during life. By doing so, the gifts given are not subject to probate or federal estate tax.
The process of estate planning can be confusing, especially if your estate is large and you want to avoid estate tax. Moreover, serving as an estate executor can be a cumbersome task. You may feel unsure about your duties, but want to comply with the law.
If you have questions about estate tax in Palm City probate cases, it might be a wise idea to discuss them with an experienced local attorney.