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Estate Tax Rules Impact Estates of New York Decedents

New York estates are subject to many requirements relating to taxes. Estate taxes can have a major impact on the estate administration process since the estate fiduciary such as the Executor or Administrator is responsible for timely preparing the estate tax returns and paying the tax that may be due. New York decedent’s estates may be subject to both New York State and Federal Estate Tax.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has previously discussed revisions that were made to the Federal Estate Tax at the end of 2010. These new rules terminate at the end of 2012 unless extended or modified. Beginning in 2011 the basic amount of exclusion from the Federal Estate Tax was increased to $5,000,000 per individual. Under the new law, to the extent that the exclusion amount was not used for a deceased spouse, the unused amount could be transferred to the surviving spouse to be used to offset his or her estate tax. This transfer, called Portability, could conceivably allow the second to die spouse to have an exclusion of 10 million dollars.

In order to qualify for Portability, the Executor or Administrator of the first spouse to die must make an election on a timely filed Federal Estate Tax Return. A Federal Estate Tax Return is due to be filed within 9 months after death and a 6 month automatic extension can be applied for. The IRS recently issued a notice which provides additional time for filing the estate tax return for decedent’s who died during the first six months of 2011. See article by Michael Cohn dated February 17, 2012, “IRS Extends Deadline on Estate Tax Portability Election.” This extension of time would allow for the election of the portability option.

Fiduciary duties in settling an estate can be very extensive and complicated. Advise from probate attorneys and tax professionals is essential for an estate to be handled properly and efficiently. Estate assets need to be identified, valued and collected and bills, debts and other expenses paid. All of the estate financial information needs to be retained and organized so that it can be reported in the Estate tax return and accounting papers. Failure by a fiduciary to properly handle these financial and estate tax matters can result in damage to an estate and a breach of fiduciary duty for which a fiduciary may incur personal liability.

I have represented many fiduciaries over the years and assisted them with the numerous estate settlement tasks and tax reporting duties that they are responsible for completing. The welfare and interests of the estate beneficiaries are of utmost importance and it is essential to protect these interests by effectively processing the estate finances.


New York Probate Attorney Jules M. Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to estate planning, estate accountings and estate settlement in Manhattan and Queens and throughout New York. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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