How may my mom fulfill my grandmother’s wishes by giving me my inheritance without any taxes being imposed?

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How may my mom fulfill my grandmother’s wishes by giving me my inheritance without any taxes being imposed?

My grandmother passed. All of her bank account hold my mom as beneficiary. Her home is in a living Trust with my mom as trustee/beneficiary. My grandmother had a Will that indicated her wishes upon death – that my mom and I split everything 50/50. However, we cannot locate the Will now.

Asked on June 4, 2015 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you cannot locate the will, there is, for all practical purposes, no will--if a will cannot be found, it cannot be probated. That means that your grandmother's assets will pass by intestate success (the rules for who inherits what when there is no will)--which in your state will leave everything to your mother if there was no surviving spouse and your mother is the only surviving child (if there are other surviving children of your grandmother--i.e. you have aunts or uncles--they will split the estate with your mother). Of course, some things will go straightaway to your mother without probate, like the bank account or the home in a trust. Regardless, though, of how the assets come to your mother, if they come to her first and then she transfer them to you, there may well be tax consequences if she exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion.There is no way to have them transfered directly from your grandmother's estate to you, from what you write--they will pass to you mother, who then needs to re-transfer them.

There of, of course, ways to minimize taxes, but tax planning is *very* complicated and depends entirely on the specific facts--the amount and type of assets, the time frame over which you want to transfer the assets, etc. You and your mother are advised to speak in detail with a CPA about your goals and how best to accomplish them.


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