If you think you can avoid the federal estate tax, you're probably right. The federal estate tax applies to Americans only if their estates total more than $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for couples. For these very wealthy families, the rate can go as high as 40%.
Portability is actually a simple concept. It means that if one half of a married couple doesn't use up the entirety of the federal estate tax exemption at death, the surviving spouse can use this leftover portion, plus his or her own exemption. It makes a high federal estate tax bill less likely.
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