Conferences and Speeches

Estate and Gifting Strategies for Unmarried Couples: Revocable Trusts, Beneficiary Designations, Financial Directives

Monday, November 22, 2021

Ellen Deringer and Emily Pickering discussed strategies to reduce estate tax liability and transfer assets in accordance with an unmarried taxpayer's intentions, as well as using gifting, trusts, title transfers, and other options to pass assets to desired beneficiaries and the directives that these single taxpayers should have in place.

Whether or not a taxpayer is married significantly impacts the taxpayer's estate. Spouses can gift unlimited amounts to each other without using their estate and gift tax exemption, while unmarried individuals are limited to $15,000 annually. Similarly, there is an unlimited estate tax marital deduction between spouses and portability, allowing one taxpayer to benefit from both spouses' estate tax exemptions. With the current estate tax exemption of $11.7 million, this would be an astounding $23.4 million excluded from estate taxation. Even with this amount scheduled to sunset beginning in 2026, returning to its former $5 million per taxpayer, the need for planning is apparent.

For unmarried cohabitants, knowing that their assets will be distributed to the people they choose is key. Whether by beneficiary designation, will, or revocable trust, methods are available to ensure assets are transferred as desired. The number of taxpayers choosing to remain single is increasing astronomically. Trust and estate practitioners working with these individuals need to understand the choices available for bequests and how they affect potential estate tax liability.

Listen as our panel of trust and estate tax experts explains gifting and estate tax options available to help alleviate tax and concerns of taxpayers choosing to remain single.

The panel will review these critical issues:

  • The benefits of a revocable living trust for single taxpayers
  • Gifting strategies to transfer assets to desired beneficiaries
  • Key health and financial directives single individuals should consider
  • Inequities between married and unmarried taxpayers in the estate and gift tax regime

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