Estate Tax Planning Serving Hampton Roads for Over 100 Years

Virginia Beach Estate Tax Planning Attorneys

Helping Clients Plan for Death Taxes

The IRS will want to review your estate when you pass away to ensure you don’t owe them that one final tax: the federal estate tax. Whether there will be any tax owed depends on the size of your estate and how your estate plan is structured. Although there are estate and inheritance taxes that you need to be aware of, there are many effective strategies that our talented lawyers can help you implement to reduce or eliminate death taxes. However, you need to start the planning process as soon as possible make sure your strategy is properly executed. Without careful planning, much of your life’s legacy could be lost to estate taxes.

How Are Estate Taxes Determined?

The taxable value of your estate is calculated by adding up all the assets you own when you die and subtracting any liabilities from that total. Additional deductions can be taken for qualified charitable deductions as well as administrative and legal costs involved in settling the deceased’s estate. The tax rate for estates exceeding the exemption amount is 40%. This rate is applied to the taxable estate value that exceeds the exemption amount.

Understanding Portability

Married couples have the benefit of the unlimited deduction for transfers to one another. Although this can benefit some couples who choose to leave their estate to each other, without proper planning, it can result in a forfeiture of some of the individual estate tax exemptions after the second spouse passes away.

For example, if a husband leaves $3 million of his individually-owned assets to his surviving wife who already has $5 million herself, her total net worth would be $8 million. The bequest to his wife is not subject to estate taxes because it qualifies for the unlimited marital deduction. After some time, the wife also passes away, leaving everything to the couple’s children. While her estate can take advantage of her individual exemption of $5.25 million, the rest of her estate could be subject to estate taxes because her husband’s individual exemption was not used.

However, the current estate tax law allows for “portability” of individual exemptions between spouses to address this issue. Estate tax portability gives the surviving spouse access to the unused portion of the deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption. Portability is not an automatic function. If you want to take advantage of it, you must file an estate tax return with the IRS within nine months of the passing of the first spouse, even if there are no taxes due at the time.

Credit Shelter Trust

If you don’t want to rely on portability to avoid taxes, then you might want to consider using a credit shelter trust as an alternative. If properly established, a credit shelter trust works similarly to portability but doesn't require filing an estate tax return after the passing of the first spouse.

Serving Clients in Virginia Beach Since 1978

TrustBuilders Law Group is a family-owned and operated law firm that has been proudly assisting clients for more than 35 years. The legal professionals at our firm represent clients of all backgrounds, from high-net-worth individuals to same-sex couples. We are here to help you devise a smart legal strategy to preserve all of your hard-earned money.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer at our firm, then please contact our firm today at (757) 500-5135 to schedule your free case consultation with our legal team. We also offer video consults, Zoom seminars, and virtual appointments.

Committed to Family Values and Lasting Legacies

Learn Why People Have Trusted Our Firm for Decades

Committed to Our Community
  • A Family Name That You Can Trust

    The Buxton Family has been serving greater Hampton Roads in law or medicine for over 100 years. We are a 5th generation family committed to supporting the local community. Let our family legacy help build your family legacy.

  • A Price You Can Afford

    TrustBuilders Law Group takes pride in offering modern estate planning at affordable prices. Our plans are prepared at a competitive, value-based flat-fee so you will never have to worry about hourly rates surprise bills.

  • A Staff With Experience and Credentials

    TrustBuilders Law Group has one of the most experienced legal teams in the area. In addition to over 100 years of combined experience, we are the only firm in Hampton Roads with both a Master of Laws in estate planning and Certified Elder Law Attorney on staff. 

  • A Plan With Your Goals in Mind

    TrustBuilders Law Group specializes in creating custom estate plans that focus on your wealth preservations goals. Unlike many boilerplates seen in the marketplace, our documents are state specific, tailored to your needs and contain cutting-edge solutions.

Client Reviews

The Stories That Matter
    TrustBuilders is the firm to do it right.

    “We recently had our trust developed with the TrustBuilders Law Group. WOW! What a wonderful experience. They are an extremely professional group. What I appreciated the most was their guidance and ...”

    - Larry
    Friendly staff with expertise in many areas. Highly recommend!

    “Our family has been working with TrustBuilders Law Group for many years. We take great comfort in knowing our estate planning is in expert hands. They are always knowledgeable regarding any changes ...”

    - Katherine Horner
    They take the time to assess your family's needs and customize a plan right for you.

    “Very knowledgeable and friendly. Attorney Buxton and Carlos are great. They take the time to assess your family's needs and customize a plan right for you. They welcome all questions and make sure you ...”

    - Carolyn E. Blakeney
    Three visits and it was all done!

    “I set up a will, trust, and medical directive. Three visits and it was all done. Effective and at reasonable fees.”

    - Glen Braden
    Wake, you are an "encyclopedia" of estate planning information!

    “Just returned from an excellent session held at the Smithfield Station Conference Center in Smithfield, VA. Presented by Wake (who was assisted by Carlos) the information was presented clearly and ...”

    - Sandra Spivey

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