I am working to set up an estate planning program for a really nice couple from Monroe, Louisiana. They had four main concerns, and one of them was making sure they avoided whatever taxes they could avoid as they have an estate plan which transitions their assets to the next generation after both of them die.
Although unusual, the couple mentioned that they were not married. All of the assets were in the gentleman's name because there were some lawsuit scares for the woman many years ago - but all of those lawsuit scares are behind them.
The gentleman had an estate that was in excess of the $5.45 million estate tax exemption. The woman had almost nothing. When they brought up the fact that they were not married, I gave them some advice regarding future estate tax that their heirs will be burdened with. I said, "You know, because you are not married and because all of the assets are owned by only one of you, then you will only be able to exempt $5.45 million from the 40% federal estate tax. But if you get married, and you have the right legal program in place, and you make the right tax elections after one of you dies, you will be able to exempt $10.9 million of assets from the 40% federal estate tax."
By the time they had left my office, they had already scheduled their wedding plans.
The estate tax laws can be more favorable to married couples than to two single individuals, due to the federal estate tax unlimited marital deduction and the portability election. I'm not crazy about having estate tax laws dictate whether a couple should get married, but if simply by tying the knot a couple or a family can save as much as $2,000,000 of estate tax, it may be worth it if you're getting married for the right reasons - not just tax planning.
If you live in Louisiana, whether in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Metairie, Monroe, Shreveport, Lake Charles, or Covington/Mandeville, and you want to have an estate planning legal program in place that will avoid federal estate tax and make it easy for the right heirs to inherit the right way, give us a call at 866-491-3884, and we'll start a conversation about how simple and important it is to have the right estate legal plan in place to protect your estate for your heirs and from the IRS and other taxing authorities.