For affluent Americans, the federal estate tax has long been a matter of significant concern. Just a decade ago, estates valued at $1.5 million or higher could be subjected to a federal estate tax of nearly 50 percent. The same applied to gift taxes made while the individual was alive. When they handled estate planning matters, couples often had to establish trusts to take advantage of the estate tax exemption. To make estate planning near Tracy and Manteca even more challenging, the federal estate tax fluctuated from year to year in a highly unpredictable manner.
Recently, however, Congress made a few changes that may make estate planning a little easier for many. The highest federal estate tax rate is now firmly set at 40 percent. Additionally, the estate tax exemption was raised to five million dollars per person, which is adjusted for inflation yearly. Rules regarding trusts have also been relaxed. To take full advantage of these changes, individuals can turn to an estate planning lawyer for guidance.