What Is Portability In Estate Planning?

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What Is Portability?

How Can Portability Help? Is It A Good Idea?

Gainesville estate and will planning attorney Ellen Gershow, of Dell Graham, discusses portability. Portability is a way to simplify the handling of estate, and tax exemptions, when a spouse dies. However, there are many things to consider when planning your estate — and Ellen advises to seek legal cousel before relaying solely on portability.


“Portability is a new concept in the estate tax laws. It’s purpose, according to Congress, is to make it simpler for people, married couples, to pass their estates without a lot of planning, without having to go to attorneys.  Of course we don’t advise relying just on Portability without actually planning your estate.  Portability means that when one spouse dies and does not use his or her entire estate tax exemption the surviving spouse may claim that remaining portion of the estate tax exemption when he or she dies.

There are rules involved including that you must claim Portability on a timely filed simplified estate tax return. There are also rules about that it has to be your last surviving spouse so you need to examine all of those things.  It has enabled couples to keep their estates jointly held, basically, and not waste the exemption.”