Estate planning can be uncomfortable but taking the time to plan will ensure your financial wishes are carried out, and ease the burden on your loved ones when you’re gone.

What is an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a set of documents that dictate what will happen to your estate (bank accounts, home, vehicles, and other assets) when you pass away. More than a will, an estate plan encompasses trusts, power of attorney, your living will, and more. This is created with the help of an attorney and a financial planner or accountant.

Estate Tax Planning

When your estate plan is carried out, you may worry about leaving your loved ones with a large tax burden. The good news is that as of 2019, estates valued at less than $11.14 million are not subject to taxation before it is bequeathed to your heirs. In addition, inherited funds are not subject to federal taxes and North Carolina does not impose state taxes on inheritance.

Estate taxes are a complex matter and this does not mean that there will be no taxes on the assets you leave to your loved ones, but it does mean that the large tax bills most people anticipate are not likely to apply. Any income generated by an inheritance is taxable and any capital gains from the sale of property are subject to taxation.

Establishing a Trust

A trust is an agreement that allows a third party (called a trustee) to hold assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are several benefits to establishing a trust, most notably the fact that they can specify exactly how and when the assets are passed to heirs. Trusts also allow assets to be passed on faster that they would be without a trust and can reduce the tax burden on your heirs. While a trust is typically established with the aid of an attorney, it is wise to have a Raleigh accountant assist in its creation.

Why Choose Us For Estate Planning Services

Steward Ingram & Cooper PLLC has been handling estate tax and estate planning for over 20 years. Our CPAs will take the time to understand your financial situation and help advise you with your estate planning. If you are a trustee of an estate and need help navigating the taxes then we are here to help. Getting professional advise is important to ensure you are not subject to any tax penalties. With CPA Firms in Durham and Raleigh we serve all of the Triangle area including Cary, Chapel Hill, Apex, Garner, Wake Forest, and Wilson.

Estate Planning: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need estate tax planning?

Without proper estate planning, your assets may end up going to the IRS rather than your loved ones. Our estate planning professionals can help you plan in advance to provide for your loved ones and avoid tax penalties that can leave your family struggling. 

What is inheritance tax?

An inheritance tax is a state tax paid on any assets an individual inherits after someone dies. Fortunately, North Carolina does not have an inheritance tax, so if you inherit money, property, or other assets, you will not have to pay a direct tax on them. 

What is estate tax?

The estate tax is a federal tax that is applied to a person’s assets after their death. However, any estate that is worth less than $12.06 million for 2022 is exempt from the tax, and is adjusted each year. For estates valued over that amount, the estate tax is paid before any inheritance is distributed or dispersed, so while beneficiaries may not receive a full amount, they will not have to pay a separate tax on it. 

How can I reduce estate tax?

To reduce the amount of tax owed on your estate after your death, you can opt to spend it before your passing, provide monetary gifts below the gift tax threshold, leave it to a qualified charitable organization, or create a trust for your heirs and beneficiaries. 

Will I owe estate tax on inherited real estate or other assets? 

Upon receiving an inheritance of real estate, you would not pay a tax on the property itself; however, if you decide to sell, you do need to report any income made from the sale. If you inherit cash that you leave in an interest-bearing account, you are liable for reporting any interest income earned on that money, whereas if you inherit stocks or an investment account, you will need to report either capital gains or dividends you receive. 

What is a trust? 

A trust is a legal entity that safely holds assets on behalf of someone else. The person who creates the trust, the grantor, chooses what goes into it and the rules and guidelines associated with it. A trust can hold anything of value including real estate, checking and savings accounts, stocks and investments, businesses, or artwork.