Portability: A New Planning Option for Married Couples
The concept of transferring or "porting" a predeceased spouse's unused federal gift and
estate tax exemption to his or her surviving spouse was first introduced into the estate planning
world in 2011. That initial version of the portability law was scheduled for a short two-year
shelf life, which meant it would be gone by 2013. As a result of that uncertainty, portability
generally was not viewed as a viable estate-planning technique for most clients.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 changed that perception when it retained
portability as part of the tax code. As a result, portability now is a "permanent" part of the tax
code for 2013 and beyond, and it would take a new act of Congress for it to go away.
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