Death Tax: Portability Election for Surviving Spouse

If your spouse has died during the year, you should consider having their estate file an election to pass their unused estate tax exclusion amount to the surviving spouse. Each taxpayer is allowed a lifetime exclusion from estate tax. The amount of the lifetime exclusion is adjusted each year for inflation. . If one spouse dies, the executor of their estate may elect to pass their unused exclusion amount to the surviving spouse. Making this election may be in the best interest of the surviving spouse even if you don't expect your estate to be higher than the single exclusion, since the future of the surviving spouse's estate is unknown. The election is made by filing an estate tax return (Form 706) for the deceased spouse's estate, which is due within 9 months of the decedent's death. A six month extension may be granted if applied for before the due date. To find this year’s lifetime exclusion, please see the list provided on our website under Resources titled “Annual Updated Tax Numbers” for this and other limits, thresholds, and rates that change annually.