Originally Posted by mathjak107
there are no taxes between spouses but when two spouses are alive they can each pass up to the estate tax limit an equal amount to other heirs .
when one dies and everything goes to the spouse now there is only that spouses limit that can go to heirs .
irrevocable trusts can preserve both party's amounts and pass 2x the assets to other heirs upon the death of the surviving spouse
The second part you stated is true but the first part I believe is incorrect. Everything I am reading indicates that between spouses there is an unlimited marital exemption
and this applies to the situation where both spouses are living or one has died.
For example , both spouses are living and can pass tens of millions of dollars back and forth with no gift tax implications. Or... one spouse dies and the surviving spouse acquires assets previously held in the dead spouses name for tens of millions of dollars. These assets also pass completely free from any federal or state estate taxes. 100%. Especially since now the estate and gift tax are unified. Only if the assets are gifted or left to a child or stranger , etc. would the gift/estate tax be implemented.