The Estate Tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death. It consists of an accounting of everything you own at the date of your death. The fair market value of these items is used, not necessarily what you paid for them or what their values were when you acquired them. The total of all of these items is your “Gross Estate”. The includible property may consist of cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests and other assets.
Once you have accounted for the Gross Estate, certain deductions (and in special circumstances, reductions to value) are allowed in arriving at your “Taxable Estate”. These deductions may include mortgages and other debts, estate administration expenses, property that passes to surviving spouses and qualified charities.
Most relatively simple estates do not require the filing of an estate tax return. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $11,580,000 in 2020.