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Death is not a fun topic to write about. However, we know that we should discuss it for the benefit of the survivors. These days, very few people are filing Estate Returns or Form 706, as we tax geeks refer to them. The amount of assets to trigger a Form 706 filing requirement are more than the exclusion, which currently exceeds $12M . The unused tax exclusion of a deceased spouse can be passed to the surviving spouse by electing portability. To make this election, a Form 706 must be filed whether the estate’s value exceeds the statutory filing requirement or not.

Beneficiary spouses of small estates believe that they have no reason to pay for the cost of preparing a Form 706. But what if a surviving spouse:


  • Hits the lotto,
  • Receives a sizable inheritance,
  • Receives or has a very large life insurance payout,
  • Lives until the lifetime exclusion gets severely reduced by the present administration?

I am not suggesting that everyone file a Form 706. But if you could possibly fall into either of the first three bullet points, I believe prudence will dictate filing the Form 706 and electing the portability. We ALL must pay attention to the fourth bullet point! Please stay tuned.