Examiner.com: “If you are currently married with significant assets, you and your spouse have a very limited time to save a lot of money, because after that it’s very likely that Congress will change the rules now in existence and make dying much tougher on your loved ones in terms of federal estate taxes. That is, of course, unless you take this moment – right now — to do some very creative planning that will lock in what’s called spousal portability.
What is Spousal Portability?
Portability is the ability to pass one’s unused estate tax exemption to his or her spouse upon death. It works like this:
The current estate tax exemption (at least until 2013) is $5 million. That means that if you die with less than $5 million, you pay no estate taxes. Five million is a pretty high number, so this exemption is very favorable. It gets even better. Since each spouse in a marriage has a $5 million exemption, the total exemption available to the couple is $10 million. If one spouse dies and has an estate valued at only $3 million, the unused exemption ($5 million – $3 million = $2 million) “ports” to the surviving spouse. He or she can now leave an estate of up to $7 million without incurring any estate taxes.”