William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

Does the New Estate Tax Make the Bypass Trust Obsolete?

Posted by William Byrnes on January 17, 2011

President Obama’s tax compromise introduces a new estate tax concept for 2011 and 2012, the deceased spouse unused exclusion amount (DSUEA).  Essentially, the DSUEA allows a surviving spouse to utilize the unused exclusion amount of the first spouse to die.  The new law raises an important planning question: Is the bypass (credit shelter) trust obsolete as an estate planning device? Also: Do existing bypass trusts need to be amended in light of the new law?

In general, under the new estate tax, an estate’s exclusion amount, referred to as its applicable exclusion amount, is the sum of two components: the basic exclusion amount and the DSUEA. The basic exclusion amount for estates of decedents dying in 2011 and 2012 is $5 million. The second part of the equation, the DSUEA, is the amount of the first-to-die spouse’s exclusion amount that is not used by the that spouse’s estate. Note that a surviving spouse’s DSUEA is equal to the unused exclusion amount of the surviving spouse’s last deceased spouse.  Read this complete article at AdvisorFX (sign up for a free trial subscription with full access to all of the planning libraries and client presentations if you are not already a subscriber).

For previous coverage of Obama’s tax agreement, including its estate tax provisions, in Advisor’s Journal, see Obama Tax Agreement Faces Stiff Resistance in Congress (CC 10-112) and Obama Tax Agreement Passed by House (CC 10-117).

For in-depth analysis of the estate tax, see Advisor’s Main Library: Estate, Gift and GST Taxes.

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