With the current estate tax exemption of $11.4 Million per individual, combined with the portability of estate tax exemption between spouses, most married couples no longer need to establish individual revocable trusts solely to avoid or minimize estate tax. And most couples with existing individual trusts no longer need worry about re-balancing trust assets for estate tax purposes. But if spouses hold highly appreciated assets, it may still be a good idea to do an occasional review and rebalancing of assets in separate trusts or in separate names. Highly appreciated assets held by a surviving spouse will be subject to capital gains tax if that spouse has a reason to liquidate them. But assets that the surviving spouse acquires upon her spouse’s death (as long as those assets were not originally held by her and transferred to her spouse less than a year before death) have the advantage of a step-up in basis and would not be subject to tax on any gain that occurred prior to the first death.

Contact Cynthia J. Black Svenson in the Troy, Michigan office at 248-433-7530 or any Dickinson Wright tax attorney for further information.