Inheritance Tax Written Words on Paper Notebook

How Can I Reduce Inheritance Tax for My Children?

Carl J. Mangine, Attorney at Law, PLLC May 15, 2024

In Texas, the concern about reducing inheritance tax for children is notably less pressing than in some other states, primarily because Texas does not impose a state inheritance or estate tax.  

Inheritance tax refers to the tax imposed on the beneficiaries receiving property from a deceased person, while estate tax is levied on the actual estate, or total value of the deceased person's money and property, before it is distributed to the beneficiaries. 

The federal government levies an estate tax, but it applies only to estates exceeding significant exemption thresholds—amounts that are adjusted annually for inflation. 

In 2024, the exemption amount for estates increases to $13.61 million from $12.92 million the previous year. For those with estates large enough to be concerned about the federal estate tax, there are several strategies to consider to minimize this impact and enhance the financial legacy left for children. 

Strategies for Reducing Inheritance Tax for Heirs & Beneficiaries 

One effective approach is the strategic use of gifts. Under federal tax law, individuals are allowed to give a certain amount per recipient per year without these gifts counting against the estate tax exemption. This annual exclusion amount offers a way to gradually transfer wealth to your children, effectively reducing the size of your taxable estate. It's an especially useful tactic for those who start gifting early, allowing for significant wealth to be passed on to children over time without triggering federal gift taxes. 

Another strategy involves establishing trusts, such as a bypass trust or an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT). Trusts can be designed in various ways to exclude assets from one's estate, thereby minimizing potential estate tax liability. For instance, an ILIT can own a life insurance policy on your life, with the proceeds payable directly to your children upon your death. This not only keeps the life insurance out of your taxable estate but also provides a tax-efficient mechanism to transfer wealth.  

Relocating assets or changing one's domicile to another state or country where the inheritance or estate tax laws are more favorable can also be a strategic method to reduce inheritance tax burdens. This approach requires careful planning and legal consultation to ensure compliance with both local and federal tax laws.

By selecting a jurisdiction with lower or no estate taxes, you can significantly decrease the amount of tax that may be levied on their estate, thereby increasing the inheritance passed onto their children. However, it's important to consider the implications of such a move, including the costs, legal requirements, and potential impact on the family's lifestyle and financial planning. 

Donating a portion of your estate to a qualified charity can fulfill your goals and provide a significant tax advantage. Charitable contributions made from your estate are deductible on the federal estate tax return, potentially reducing the taxable size of the estate.

This strategy not only helps in lowering the overall estate tax issue but also enables individuals to support causes and organizations they are passionate about, creating a lasting legacy. It's essential, however, to plan these donations in accordance with federal guidelines and consider their timing and the nature of the assets being donated to maximize the tax benefits. 

Careful planning with a knowledgeable professional is a great tool for considering the unique aspects of each family's situation. Regardless of the size of your estate, it's advisable to consult with an estate planning attorney to explore these and other strategies tailored to your specific circumstances, pinpointing a beneficial setup for passing on your legacy to your children. 

How an Estate Lawyer Can Help 

An estate lawyer plays a crucial role in any estate planning process, acting as a knowledgeable guide through the pressing legal, tax, and personal considerations. At Carl J. Mangine, Attorney at Law, PLLC, I have the resources and knowledge to bring several key benefits: 

  • Avoiding Probate: I can help in structuring an estate in a manner that minimizes its exposure to probate proceedings, which can be time-consuming and costly. 

  • Tax Planning: I can provide invaluable advice on how to structure an estate to minimize tax liabilities, making use of exemptions, trusts, and other legal strategies to protect as much of the estate as possible from taxation. 

  • Customized Estate Planning: Understanding that each family’s situation is unique, I offer tailored solutions that reflect specific family dynamics, financial circumstances, and long-term goals. 

  • Addressing Potential Conflicts: By clearly outlining the distribution of assets and responsibilities among heirs and beneficiaries, I can reduce the risk of disputes for a smoother estate settlement. 

  • Updates and Revisions: I also assist with regularly updating your estate plan to reflect changes in law, personal circumstances, or financial situations, ensuring that the plan remains effective and relevant. 

In sum, the assistance of an estate lawyer is a beneficial tool for estate planning, helping to achieve personal objectives in preserving and transferring assets to the next generation. 

Help Is Here When You Need It 

Inheritance tax can be a significant concern for many, especially when considering the financial legacy left for children. As an attorney at Carl J. Mangine, Attorney at Law, PLLC, serving Schertz, Texas, and surrounding areas like Guadalupe County, Universal City, Converse, New Braunfels, and San Antonio, I have guided numerous clients through the crafting of estate planning. Contact me today to schedule a time to talk.