Inheritance Tax is a Mystery to Many Americans

How often do you find that clients are not aware of the ins and outs of the tax liabilities associated with an inheritance?

According to a new study by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, nearly half of respondents in a survey said they knew very little about inheritance tax - in fact, they used the world "unaware" in describing the situation.

While they have strong opinions (75 percent of respondents) that an inheritance should not be taxed at the federal and state levels, general confusion exists about the entire tax scheme associated with passing wealth from one generation to the next.

Statistics from Prudential also indicate that middle-income families do not think that the worth of their estates is high enough to consider the tax ramifications that will occur when then pass on. According to Prudential if an estate is valued at $675,000 or more, then serious decisions should be made about taxes.

When meeting with clients, here's a four-part method for determining the net worth of an estate:

  1. total your family savings;

  2. establish the market value of your home;

  3. determine the value of your IRAs, 401(k)s or other qualified plans; and

  4. total the value of any life insurance policies, including group policies offered by an employer.

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