What Ways Are There Around Paying Inheritance Tax in 2024?

Inheriting assets can be both a blessing and a burden, especially when it comes to inheritance tax. But did you know that with proper planning and strategies, you can minimize or even avoid this tax altogether? In this blog post,...

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Inheriting assets can be both a blessing and a burden, especially when it comes to inheritance tax. But did you know that with proper planning and strategies, you can minimize or even avoid this tax altogether? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of inheritance and estate taxes, guiding you through many strategies and tax considerations to help protect your assets and reduce your tax liability. Get ready to explore “what ways are there around paying inheritance tax” and take control of your financial future!

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the difference between inheritance and estate tax to reduce liability.
  • Utilize trusts, life insurance policies, charitable donations & more for effective planning.
  • Seek professional advice to maximize asset utilization and minimize taxes.

Understanding Inheritance Tax and Estate Tax

Inheritance tax and estate tax are two distinct concepts, yet people often get them mixed up. They may sound similar, but there is a distinct difference between the two. The deceased’s estate pays estate taxes, while inheritance taxes are paid by those receiving the inheritance. Grasping both concepts, as well as understanding income tax implications is vital for effective estate planning and reducing tax liability.

Inheritance tax, for example, is calculated based on the state’s rules, which separate beneficiaries into different classes based on their relationship to the deceased and set exemptions and tax rates accordingly. So, how does inheritance tax work? It’s usually calculated on a sliding scale, with rates starting off low and rising up to around 15-18%, based on the value of the inherited assets, not on the beneficiary’s taxable income.

Estate tax, on the other hand, is a federal tax imposed on the estate of the deceased person. The federal estate tax exemption for 2023 is $12.92 million, which means that estates below this threshold won’t be subject to paying taxes at the federal level. However, it’s important to consider the federal inheritance tax as well. Keep in mind that state inheritance tax rules are not the same across the board. Luckily, Arkansas is not one of the six states that impose an inheritance tax.

States that impose an inheritance tax:

  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania

Appreciating the nuances of both inheritance and estate taxes plays a significant role when strategizing for your estate and reducing your tax burden.

Federal Estate Tax Exemption

The federal estate tax exemption plays a significant role in shielding most estates from federal taxation. For 2023, the exemption amount is $12.92 million. This means that if the value of your estate is below this threshold, it won’t be subject to federal estate tax. If your estate does exceed the exemption amount, the tax rate ranges from 18% to 40%. It’s important to note that the federal estate tax doesn’t offer a tax deduction like some other taxes do.

The lifetime estate tax exemption amount, determined by the federal government, is used to figure out how much you can transfer tax-free. The trustee of the estate is responsible for taking care of estate taxes, which are paid out of the estate, helping to reduce the tax burden on the beneficiaries.

Given the pivotal role the federal estate tax exemption plays in tax planning, remember to factor it in while devising strategies to cut down on inheritance tax.

Strategies to Minimize Inheritance Tax

There are several strategies to minimize inheritance tax that you can consider implementing in your estate planning. These include:

  • Gifting assets during your lifetime
  • Utilizing trusts
  • Purchasing life insurance policies
  • Making charitable donations

Each strategy has unique advantages and disadvantages that we’ll explore further in subsequent sections.

Gifting Assets During Lifetime

One effective way to reduce your taxable estate and avoid inheritance tax is by gifting assets during your lifetime. For the 2022 tax year, the annual gift limit is $16,000, and you can give up to $12.6 million over your lifetime without being taxed on it. By giving away assets while you’re alive, you can lower the amount of your taxable estate and help you avoid paying inheritance tax.

Another approach to gifting assets during your lifetime is through a family-limited partnership, where ownership of assets can be transferred to the partnership as a separate entity from the owner and their heirs. Gifting ownership interest in a family-limited partnership to family members can be advantageous, as the value of the gift can be discounted for tax purposes. This strategy can help reduce your taxable estate and minimize the potential inheritance tax burden on your heirs.

For example, we had a client, let’s call him Ted,  concerned about the estate tax diminishing his legacy. Over a beer, we introduced him to the concept of lifetime gifting. This strategy involved gifting portions of one’s wealth to heirs over time, using the annual gift tax exclusion to reduce the size of the taxable estate. Intrigued, Ted began implementing this approach, gifting the maximum allowed amount each year to family members and trusted employees. This not only reduced the potential estate tax burden but allowed Ted to see his loved ones flourish with his contributions. He covered college tuition, helped with home purchases, and supported countless dreams without incurring taxes. When Ted passed away, his family felt immense gratitude. His use of lifetime gifting not only preserved a significant portion of his wealth but also strengthened family bonds. Ted’s legacy became a testament to his financial wisdom and generosity.

Utilizing Trusts

Trusts are legal arrangements that allow a person or entity to transfer ownership of assets to another person or entity to manage and distribute them according to the grantor’s wishes. Trusts can be particularly helpful when it comes to inheritance tax, as they allow assets to be passed to beneficiaries after death without having to go through probate, which can help reduce estate and inheritance taxes.

There are two main types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust can be changed or ended by the grantor, whereas an irrevocable trust can’t be altered or ended without the beneficiary’s consent.

Having assets in an irrevocable trust offers significant tax benefits, including:

  • No estate or inheritance taxes applied to the trust assets
  • Avoidance of probate
  • Protection of privacy
  • Minimization of estate and inheritance taxes

However, putting assets into joint names with a child may result in higher taxes for the child.

The use of trusts, particularly irrevocable ones, should be taken into account as a worthwhile strategy when aiming to lower inheritance tax.

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Life Insurance Policies

Life insurance policies can be a valuable tool in minimizing inheritance tax. The death benefit from an insurance policy is not subject to inheritance taxes, and thus provides funds to cover inheritance or estate taxes and helps to ease the financial burden on your beneficiaries. However, it’s vital to do your homework on the top life insurance companies suitable for your needs before settling on a policy.

An irrevocable life insurance trust is another strategy to consider. By setting up an irrevocable life insurance trust, you ensure that the life insurance policy won’t be included in your estate. This means the value of the policy won’t be taken into account when calculating if your estate is taxable. Using an irrevocable life insurance trust can help keep the policy out of your taxable estate, further reducing your potential inheritance tax liability.

Combining Trusts and Life Insurance

We had a client, let’s call him Benjamin; he was concerned about estate taxes diminishing his family’s legacy. Seeking solutions, he consulted wh Law. We introduced the concept of an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) to cover potential estate tax liabilities. By setting up an ILIT, the life insurance’s tax-free death benefit would pay the estate taxes, preventing the family from selling parts of the business to cover the bill. Benjamin adopted this strategy, ensuring the business’s continuation in his family. Upon his passing, the life insurance payout covered the estate taxes, preserving the family legacy and alleviating financial stress for his loved ones.

Charitable Donations

Charitable donations can be a win-win strategy for both the charity and your estate. By donating to charity, you can lower your taxable estate and receive tax deductions. This can help you minimize your estate taxes and potentially avoid inheritance tax altogether.

When contemplating making charitable donations, it’s important to investigate the charitable organizations you wish to back and confirm that they resonate with your values and objectives. By donating to causes you care about, you not only reduce your tax liability, but also make a positive impact on your community and the world.

State-Specific Inheritance Tax Rules

Inheritance tax rules differ from state to state, and grasping the rules in your jurisdiction is key to effective estate planning. As mentioned earlier, six states currently impose an inheritance tax, including Iowa, Kentucky, and Nebraska.

Arkansas Inheritance Tax Rules

Arkansas inheritance tax rules are an example of state-specific tax regulations that can impact estate planning and tax liability. However, contrary to popular belief, Arkansas doesn’t have an inheritance tax. It’s one of the 38 states that don’t impose a state-level inheritance tax.

This example underscores the significance of comprehending the specific tax rules in your state for effective estate planning and tax liability reduction, including understanding your potential tax bill.

Retirement Account Considerations

Inherited retirement accounts have unique tax considerations that you should be aware of when planning your estate. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Inherited retirement assets are not subject to taxation until they are withdrawn.
  • Once the withdrawal occurs, taxes will be applicable on these assets.
  • However, if the beneficiary isn’t the spouse, there may be rules concerning when the distributions must take place.
  • Any money you withdraw from a retirement account will be taxable as income, so minimizing distributions can help you save on taxes.

One way to reduce IRA taxes, for example, is through a Roth conversion. By converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you can minimize the taxes on your retirement account and potentially reduce the overall tax burden on your estate.

Considering the tax implications of inherited retirement accounts and seeking professional advice is critical to maximizing your asset utilization.

Relocating to a Tax-Friendly State

Relocating to a tax-friendly state can help minimize inheritance and estate taxes, but it’s important to remember that the rules of the state where the deceased lived still apply. The location of the property will determine the rules that apply for estate taxes. So, while relocating to a state without inheritance tax might save you money, understanding the implications of the rules in the state where the deceased person resided is paramount.

If you’re considering relocating to a tax-friendly state to minimize your tax burden, be sure to research the inheritance and estate tax laws in both your current state and the state you’re considering moving to. Keep in mind that the inheritance tax rules are based on the state the deceased person lived in, not the state the heir lives in. It’s best to consult with an expert probate attorney to determine the best course of action to minimize your tax liability.

Seeking Professional Guidance

The intricacies of inheritance and estate taxes can be intimidating, which underscores the importance of seeking professional guidance. An Estate Planning Attorney can help you with:

  • Making sense of inheritance and estate taxes
  • Coming up with effective estate planning strategies
  • Ensuring you’re making the most of deductions and credits
  • Saving you time and money
  • Providing access to tax expertise
  • Giving you peace of mind

Keep in mind, the objective is to reduce your tax liability and safeguard your assets, making it crucial to have an experienced attorney at your disposal to help you pay taxes legally and efficiently.


In conclusion, minimizing inheritance tax is a complex yet achievable goal with the right planning and strategies. By understanding the various tax laws, utilizing the available strategies, and seeking professional advice, you can protect your assets, reduce your tax liability, and leave a lasting legacy for your loved ones. Remember, the key to minimizing inheritance tax lies in being proactive and taking control of your financial future.

Don’t hesitate to seek out an estate planning or probate attorney to guide you through this complex process and help you secure your legacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I avoid paying taxes on inheritance?

Avoiding inheritance taxes is possible by using strategies such as transferring assets into a trust, taking advantage of the alternate valuation date, minimizing IRA distributions and gifting some money away.

How much can you inherit from your parents without paying taxes?

Inheritances are not subject to federal taxes, and for 2021-2023 federal estate taxes will generally only be applied to estates valued over $12.06 million (2022) and $12.92 million (2023).

Thus, you can inherit up to $12.06 million or $12.92 million from your parents without paying taxes.

What’s the difference between inheritance tax and estate tax?

Inheritance taxes are paid by those receiving an inheritance, while estate taxes are paid out of the estate of the deceased.

What’s the federal estate tax exemption for 2023?

The federal estate tax exemption for 2023 is $12.92 million, so estates below that amount are exempt from federal taxes.

Do all states have an inheritance tax?

No, not all states have an inheritance tax; currently only six states impose one – Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Arkansas does not have an inheritance tax.

What’s the inheritance tax rate?

The inheritance tax rate differs depending on the state, but it usually works out to be a percentage of the inherited assets’ value.

Who has to pay the inheritance tax?

The person who inherits the assets usually has to cover the inheritance tax. Additionally, they might be subject to capital gains tax in certain situations.

Are there any exemptions or deductions I should know about?

Yes, there are exemptions and deductions available for certain types of assets and situations, including deductible business expenses, that you should be aware of.

What are some ways to help minimize or avoid inheritance tax?

Some strategies that can help with minimizing or avoiding inheritance tax include:

  • Gifting assets during lifetime
  • Utilizing trusts
  • Taking advantage of life insurance policies
  • Making charitable donations
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