Maryland Estate Tax Changes Go Into Effect in 2015

Listen up Marylanders – Governor O’Malley has signed H.B. 739, Maryland Estate Tax – Unified Credit, into law. This bill repeals and then re-enacts Maryland’s state estate tax so that the current $1,000,000 estate tax exemption will increase as follows beginning on January 1, 2015:

  • 2015 exemption – $1,500,000
  • 2016 exemption – $2,000,000
  • 2017 exemption – $3,000,000
  • 2018 exemption – $4,000,000
  • 2019 exemption – will equal the federal estate exemption, estimated to be $5,900,000 as indexed for inflation

Along with matching the federal estate tax exemption in 2019 and future years, beginning in 2019 the Maryland estate exemption will be portable between married couples. However, no changes were made to Maryland’s inheritance tax laws.

Photo: Bill signing ceremony for H.B. 739, Jay Baker/Executive Office of the Governor

Modern Estate Planning is About Estate Protection

While traditional estate planning was focused on avoiding probate and minimizing estate taxes, today the focus has shifted in a new direction – from an emphasis on estate planning to an emphasis on estate protection.

In an ideal world all of our loved ones would be perfect and able to handle everything that comes their way, but in reality our loved ones have needs, desires, and real or perceived flaws that we need to plan for, against, or around. These days it’s really not enough for you to write a simple Last Will and Testament or Revocable Living Trust that leaves your property to your loved ones outright and free of any strings attached.  Instead, modern estate planning has evolved from just that – estate planning – to the more complicated process of estate protection.

Does your estate plan protect your family from creditors, lawsuits and divorcing spouses?  How about bad decisions, bad investments and bad influences?  If not, then consider changing your estate plan so that it protects what you have now, what you’ll gain in the future, and what your loved ones will be left with in the end.