Under current law, any estate tax exemption amount that a spouse does not use by the time of his death cannot be used by a surviving spouse and expires upon the first spouse’s death.
Portability, as proposed in the Taxpayer Certainty and Relief Act of 2009, would allow the surviving spouse to be credited with the deceased spouse’s unused exclusion amount.
The Act includes safeguards including provisions which limit the unused exclusion amounts which a surviving spouse of multiple deceased spouses can use. The entire exclusion available to the surviving spouse would be the applicable exclusion amount otherwise available to a decedent.
Contact an estate planning law firm for further information.