Estate Taxes

Understanding estate taxes and planning around them can be a real headache. Whether you’re looking to keep your family secure or handle a large estate, getting it right is crucial.


Every year, families get caught in hard spots. They feel they’ve protected their money and property well, but they face surprise taxes and legal troubles when it’s time to sort out what they leave behind. Without advice, you may risk financial loss, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones are taken care of.


This article will cover all the essentials about estate taxes and planning for your estate in Florida. It will also explain why bringing on a lawyer who specializes in estate taxes might be a wise decision for your estate administration.


Feeling lost and uncertain about tax matters? Don’t worry; you have options. Call our law firm to schedule a consultation with William Roof today.

What is Estate Tax?

Estate tax is a tax on the money and property, often called the “estate,” that you leave behind to your family members and loved ones when you pass away. It’s like the government’s way of getting a slice of the pie after you’re gone. But don’t worry, there are circumstances that lessen this tax liability or sometimes even eliminate it altogether.


How Estate Tax Works

Federal estate tax is a tax based on how much your property is worth. But it’s not for everyone. Generally, only large estates get hit with this tax — those with a value over $12.92 million or more. There are also methods to lower the tax amount. The person in charge of sorting out your property, often known as the “executor,” will work out if this tax is needed and how much it’ll be. Without proper planning, your family could end up with less than you want to leave them. That’s where an estate planning attorney can assist you.

Estate Tax and Inheritance Tax: What’s the Difference?

Both estate tax and inheritance tax have to do with what happens to your stuff after you die, but they’re not the same thing.


  • Estate Tax: This is a federal tax on the deceased person’s estate before it gets passed on to family or friends.
  • Inheritance Tax: This is a State tax that the people who get the money or property have to pay. Florida doesn’t have State inheritance taxes.

What is Tax Exclusion?

Tax exclusion helps you keep some of your money safe from taxes. If you give gifts to your family now, that money may not be taxed after you pass away. Understanding tax exclusion can help your family save money, so it’s good to talk with a lawyer who knows about estate taxes.

Tips for Effective Estate Planning

Planning for what happens to your stuff after you’re gone is not something many of us want to think about. But smart planning now can save your family lots of trouble later. Here are some simple things you can do:

Create a Will or Trust

  • Why It Matters: A will is a set of instructions for who gets what after you’re gone. A trust is similar but gives you more control and some tax benefits.
  • How We Help: We guide you through the legal considerations to ensure your will or trust stands up in court.

Gift Assets Before Death

  • Why Do It: Giving away some of your money or property while you’re still alive, you can seriously cut down on estate taxes later. However, this can also make you liable for a “gift tax” in some situations.
  • Our Role: We can help you figure out the best things to give away and when to do it to save the most on taxes.

Set Up Joint Accounts

  • The Benefit: With a joint account, when one person dies, the other gets everything in the account without it having to go through probate (the legal process of distributing your belongings after you die).
  • Our Expertise: We’ll help you decide if a joint account fits into your estate planning task list and how to set it up properly.

Invest in Tax-Free Bonds

  • Tax Advantages: Some bonds are not subject to federal taxes, which can be a good way to save money in the long run.
  • How We Assist: We can work with you to determine which tax-free bonds fit best with your financial goals and estate plans.

Why an Estate Planning Attorney Is Often Better Than DIY

Finding the right estate planning attorney is an important step in securing your family’s financial future. If you’ve been typing “estate tax” or “estate planning near me” in your search bar, you’re on the right track. Here’s how to make an informed decision:


  • Complex Assets: If you have multiple types of assets like real estate, stocks, or businesses, an attorney can help navigate the complexities.
  • Multiple Beneficiaries: Having many people or organizations to leave assets can complicate things. Working with an attorney can help ensure everyone gets their fair share.
  • Tax Benefits: There may be available tax shelters and exemptions that you might not be aware of, potentially saving you a lot of money.

Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Tax

Are estate taxes inheritable?

No, estate taxes are not inheritable. They are a one-time tax that is paid by the estate before any distribution is made to beneficiaries. Any money or assets you inherit are generally free from any additional estate taxes.

What is excluded from estate tax?

Certain assets and amounts may be excluded from estate tax, often referred to as “exemptions.” This can include a spousal transfer and a specific amount that changes over time due to inflation. It’s crucial to consult an estate planning attorney to understand what exclusions apply to your situation.

Who should pay the estate tax?

Typically, the estate tax is covered by the estate before giving out assets to the heirs. The estate executor (also known as “personal representative” in Florida) is tasked with submitting the needed estate tax forms and making the payment. Talking to an estate planning lawyer can help you follow the rules and lower the estate tax amount.

How do you calculate estate tax?

Estate tax is calculated by adding up the entire worth of the estate, including property, bank accounts, investments, and other valuables. Amounts like debts, estate management costs, and exemptions are removed from the total worth. The sum left is then subject to estate taxes.

When should the estate tax accrue?

Estate tax usually becomes due shortly after the estate owner passes away. The executor (or “personal representative” in Florida) has a time frame, often nine months, to submit the estate tax return and pay the tax. While extensions can occasionally be granted, it’s important to move fast to dodge extra charges and interest.

How to avoid estate tax?

You can minimize or avoid estate tax through careful estate planning. Common strategies include gifting assets to loved ones before death, setting up trusts, and taking advantage of tax exemptions. Consulting an estate planning attorney can provide tailored solutions for your situation.

What happens if you don’t pay estate tax?

Not paying estate tax can lead to large fines and added interest by the IRS. The executor might be personally held responsible for any unpaid taxes. The estate could also face legal action, which can postpone the distribution of assets to heirs.

Why do we pay estate tax?

Estate tax is meant to tax the money moving from one generation to another. It acts as a money source for the government and tries to lessen wealth piling up in the same families.

What is the purpose of estate tax?

The aim of estate tax is to tax big money moves and to bring in money for the government. It also hopes to promote charity by offering tax cuts for charitable donations made from the estate.

What are the benefits of estate tax?

Estate tax helps to redistribute wealth and can reduce income inequality in a society. It also generates significant revenue for the government, which can be used for public services and programs.

What are the disadvantages of estate tax?

Estate tax can be hard on family businesses and might force selling assets to cover the tax. It also complicates estate planning, making people spend time and money on ways to avoid the tax.

When should I hire an estate Planning attorney and why?

Consider getting an estate planning lawyer if your estate is big enough to be taxed or if you have complex assets like businesses or real property. A lawyer can help you understand estate tax laws and find ways to lower the estate tax. They can also help with planning the estate to make sure assets move to your loved ones smoothly.

Take Control of Your Financial Future Today!

Protect your hard-earned assets from legal hassles and excessive taxes. Our dedicated estate tax attorney, Colby Roof, with expertise in Intellectual Property and Commercial Law, can save you time and stress. Choose us for trusted legal assistance in securing your family’s future. Contact us for a consultation.

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The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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