Vaght Boutris LLP

Estate Tax

The federal estate tax is a tax on the fair market value of a person's gross estate, or all the property the person owned or had an interest in at the time of death; there are a limited number of deductions that can be applied to reduce the gross estate’s value. 

What is Your Estate?
A person's estate is defined as the value of all of his or her assets at death, which includes:

  • Cash
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Real estate
  • Personal property
  • Trust assets
  • Annuities
  • Business interests
  • Life insurance, with certain exceptions
  • Retirement accounts

Estate Tax Deductions and Exemptions
A portion of the gross estate amount receives tax-exempt status and certain deductions are also taken into consideration, such as:

  • The share of a property left to a surviving spouse
  • Funeral expenses of the estate
  • Debts owed at the time of death 
  • Property that is legally transmitted to a tax-exempt charity.

Changes in Federal Estate Tax Law
Federal estate tax law has undergone several changes in recent years. In 2010, for the first time since 1916, there was no federal estate tax.  When it was reimplemented in 2011, the 2010 Tax Relief Act (passed in December that year) had instituted some changes, including a $5 million per person exemption from estate tax. 

That legislation was due to sunset in 2013 and return the estate tax to its 2001 level. However, in January 2013 Congress made permanent an estate tax on estates in excess of $5 million at a rate of 40 percent.  This amount has adjusted for inflation each year, and in 2017, the estate and gift tax exemption for an individual was raised to $5.49 million.  


With law offices in Oakland and Walnut Creek, Vaught & Boutris LLP provides estate and trust expertise throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Contra Costa County and Alameda County. We provide our clients with estate and asset protection planning, including wills, trusts, and probate; trust administration; and estate and trust litigation. If you wish to contact us, you may contact us online or call 510-430-1518 today.  

The information on this website is for general informational purposes only.  Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual matter.  This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.  The attorneys at Vaught & Boutris pracitice in California, and in US Tax Court and ___ only.