An estate is frozen the moment that a federal estate tax return is received by the IRS. This means that assets cannot be transferred, and other transactions cannot be initiated or completed until the return is accepted. When that happens, the IRS will send an estate tax closing letter indicating that the return has been fully processed and accepted. Georgia residents and others may need to wait several months or years after submitting a return to receive this letter.
Estate planning is not always easy in Georgia. While some people may have complicated assets, others might need to ensure heirs get their share of an inheritance. However, one problem is more universal. In general, estate plans are often not updated when they need to be.
Estate planners in Georgia may have heard of something called upstream planning. Those who implement this strategy will first give an asset that has significantly appreciated in value to someone who is older than they are. The asset is then given back to the individual who originally owned it, and when the asset is returned, the person who receives it gets a step-up in basis.
Georgia residents who are thinking about buying a property overseas for either investment or retirement purposes should be aware that foreign real estate holdings are considered part of an individual's gross estate by the government. This means that the value of these holdings is included when federal estate taxes are calculated. Gross estates are made up of all of the assets owned at the time of death, and they may even include life insurance proceeds that have been paid to other beneficiaries.
Although the current federal exemption is more than $11 million, some Georgia residents may still need additional protection against estate taxes. Annual gifting is one way to do this. Individuals can gift $15,000 per year per recipient, and this means couples can gift $30,000.
Just as it is important to plan for retirement, it is possibly even more important that people in the Georgia area carefully plan for the manner in which their estates will be handled upon their death. While there is no question that provisions should be made for minor children to ensure that someone is appointed to administer the estate to take care of them, all too often adult children are entrusted with more than they are capable of handling responsibly.