The 3 W's (Who, What, & When) of Estate Tax Penalties and Liability
Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Reporter, Volume 54, No. 2.
21 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2016
Date Written: 2016
Why should the typical lawyer be concerned with staying abreast of federal estate tax laws? The recent increases in the exemption amount have resulted in fewer estates being required to file an estate tax return. Only attorneys who provide services to the very wealthy need bother with staying up to date on federal estate tax laws, right? Not so! Despite the estate tax exemption being higher than ever, the number of federal estate tax return filings is actually on the rise. Even when a lawyer does not anticipate ever accepting an engagement to prepare an estate tax return, it may be reasonable to assume that he or she might, at some point, represent a surviving spouse, personal representative, or beneficiary of an estate that is subject to the federal estate tax. In that event, it is imperative for the lawyer to be aware of the federal estate laws that could affect his or her client. This article addresses some general concepts and recent cases regarding penalties and liability in the context of the federal estate tax and describes the “Who,” “What,” and “When” of some issues that might be encountered by surviving spouses, executors, administrators, beneficiaries, and heirs.
Keywords: estate tax, texas, liability, penalty, defense, transferee liability, fiduciary liability
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