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 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.
The amount of money U.S. citizens are entitled to transfer free of federal estate and gift taxes.
The person or entity named in a will and appointed by the probate court responsible for gathering an individual's assets upon his or her death, managing and maintaining those assets, completing the administrative and tax responsibilities of the estate, and distributing assets according to the decedent's will.