Family Legacy Services

Federal estate tax rules for spouses

In 2019, the exemption amount is $11.4 million, adjusted for inflation annually.

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Call 800-860-8392

Points to know

  • The unlimited marital deduction allows one spouse to transfer any amount of assets to the surviving spouse free of federal estate tax if the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen.
  • As of 2019, U.S. citizens are entitled to transfer $11.4 million, known as the exemption amount, free of federal estate and gift taxes. Spouses can transfer any unused portion of their exemption amount to their surviving spouse.

The relationship between marriage and taxes

Federal tax laws are less intrusive when assets pass from one spouse to the other.

Unlimited marital deduction

The unlimited marital deduction allows you to transfer any amount of assets to your surviving spouse free of federal estate tax if your spouse is a U.S. citizen.

If your spouse isn't a U.S. citizen, you can take advantage of the marital deduction by creating a qualified domestic trust.

 

Portability

Portability is the ability to transfer the unused portion of your exemption amount to your surviving spouse. This transferred amount is known as the "deceased spousal unused exclusion amount" (DSUEA), and it's added to your spouse's exemption amount.

To make the transfer, your executor must elect this option on your federal estate tax return.

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Reach your goals with advice from Vanguard

Get more from Vanguard

✓ Custom financial plan

✓ Ongoing portfolio management

✓ Investment coaching

✓ Real-time goal tracking

✓ All at a low cost

 

Reach your goals with advice from Vanguard

Explore more topics

Understanding how taxes affect your estate

Learn about the taxes that could affect your estate and the amount your heirs receive.

Strategies to lower your taxable estate now

Transferring assets during your lifetime can lower your taxable estate, meaning your heirs will pay less in taxes.

Vanguard family legacy services

We're here to help. Talk with your Vanguard team.

Call 800-860-8392


View your account or schedule time to talk with your relationship team.

Vanguard family legacy services

We're here to help. Talk with your Vanguard team.

Call 800-860-8392


View your account or schedule time to talk with your relationship team.