Gross estate and its impact on estate taxes

Georgia residents may owe the federal government money after they pass if their gross estate is higher than the federal estate tax exemption. The gross estate is made up of anything that a person owns or in which he or she has an interest, or controlling interest. A controlling interest means that an individual can direct where an item goes even if he or she doesn't own it directly. Community property and other assets may also be added to this total.

It is important to point out that this includes items owned both in the United States and throughout the world. Nonresidents of the United States may also be required to fill out form 706-NA to report assets in the country or gift adjustments worth more than $60,000. Per the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the federal estate tax exemption increased to $11.18 million for an individual and $22.36 million for a married couple for 2019.

The limits may change in the future based on inflation numbers for a given year. In the event that estate taxes are owed, they must be paid within nine months of a person's death. An estate can ask for an additional six months to file an estate tax return, but there is no extension available to pay taxes owed.

Keeping track of assets and their values is an important part of the estate planning process. It may allow a person to have a better idea of whether an asset should be placed in a trust, gifted before death or simply handed down to a beneficiary. Ideally, individuals will have conversations with family members regarding what will happen to their assets. This may make it easier for an estate to be settled in a timely manner and without too much family infighting.

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