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Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Inheritance?

Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher Feb. 8, 2024

Senior Man Writing Tax ApplicationsIf you have received an inheritance, you may be wondering if you will have to pay taxes on it. The answer to this question depends on several factors such as the state you live in, the value of the inheritance, the type of assets received, and your relationship to the deceased. 

In Texas, there is no inheritance tax. This means that regardless of the value or type of assets received, you will not be taxed on your inheritance. However, if you live in a state with an inheritance tax, such as Pennsylvania or Nebraska, you may have to pay taxes on your inheritance depending on its value and your relationship to the deceased. 

Does Texas Have an Estate Tax or Inheritance Tax? 

No, Texas does not have an estate tax or inheritance tax. The state abolished its inheritance tax in 2005 and has never had a separate estate tax. 

There are still certain taxes that need to be filed on behalf of the deceased. These include individual federal and state income tax returns, federal estate/trust income tax return, and federal estate tax return. Each of these has specific due dates and requirements. You don't have to worry about these unless you are the executor of the estate, in which case you may need to seek professional help from an attorney

What's the Difference Between an Estate Tax and an Inheritance Tax? 

To better understand why some states have both an estate tax and inheritance tax while others only have one or none, it's important to know the difference between the two. 

An estate tax is a tax on the total value of a deceased person's assets. This includes everything from property and investments to cash and personal belongings. The tax is paid by the estate before any distributions are made to beneficiaries. 

On the other hand, an inheritance tax is paid by individual beneficiaries who receive assets from a deceased person’s estate. The tax is based on the value of the assets received and can vary depending on the relationship between the beneficiary and the deceased. 

My Loved One Didn't Leave a Will. What Happens Now? 

If your loved one died without a will, also known as dying intestate, the assets of their estate will be distributed according to state laws. This process is called probate and can be complex and time-consuming. In this situation, it's important to seek legal advice from an attorney who specializes in probate law. 

Probate can be a costly process, with various expenses that can significantly reduce the value of an estate. Standard costs include court fees, which are set by state law and can vary widely.  

Additionally, executor fees for managing and distributing the estate must be paid unless waived.  

Furthermore, legal fees for the attorney representing the estate can comprise a significant portion of probate costs, especially if the probate process is extensive or contested.  

It's also not uncommon for estates to incur costs for appraisals, to accurately value the estate's assets, and for accountants if there are complex tax issues to resolve.  

These costs collectively underscore the value of having a comprehensive will and exploring strategies to minimize or avoid probate

Inheritance Rights of Spouses and Children 

Spouses and children have specific inheritance rights under Texas law.  

The distribution of assets depends on factors such as whether the deceased had children from a previous marriage, whether they were married at the time of death, and whether they had a valid will.  

These laws ensure that surviving spouses and children receive a fair share of the estate. 

Other Situations and Considerations 

There are several other situations and considerations related to inheritance in Texas. These include former spouses mentioned in a will, putative spouses, deathbed marriages, stepchildren, adopted children, illegitimate children, and intestate succession for unmarried individuals without children. Each situation carries its own implications and legal requirements. 

Will My Inheritance Be Factored Into My Tax Return? 

In general, inheritances are not taxable income and do not need to be reported on your tax return.  

However, if you receive assets that generate income, such as interest from investments or rental property, that income will need to be reported and may be subject to taxes. 

Additionally, if you sell inherited assets for a profit, such as stocks or real estate, you may be subject to capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price and the value of the asset at the time of inheritance. 

Overall, if you have received an inheritance, it's important to consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to understand any potential tax implications and ensure that your taxes are accurately filed. In some cases, there may be ways to minimize or avoid taxes on your inheritance, but it's best to seek professional advice in these situations.  

How an Attorney Can Help 

Navigating the legal and tax implications of an inheritance can be complex and overwhelming, especially during a time of grief. Hiring an experienced attorney who specializes in estate planning and probate law can help ensure that your inheritance is properly managed and distributed according to state laws. 

An attorney can also provide guidance on how to minimize taxes, protect assets from creditors, and create a comprehensive estate plan to protect your own assets for future generations. Additionally, if you have any questions or concerns about the process or your rights as a beneficiary, an attorney can provide valuable advice and representation. 

Address Your Questions Today 

In conclusion, while Texas does not have a state inheritance or estate tax, there are still tax obligations related to the deceased's income and estate.  

Another key takeaway here is that understanding the importance of estate planning, along with Texas inheritance laws, is crucial to ensuring a smooth distribution of assets.  

As an estate attorney based in Dallas, Texas, I'm proud to work with families throughout the area. My law firm, the Law Office of Sharion L. Fisher, serves clients not only in Dallas County but also in Collin County, Ellis County, and Tarrant County.  

If you need assistance with estate planning or have specific questions about your situation, don't hesitate to reach out. I'm here to help make these complex legal concepts accessible and manageable.