Skip to Content

Estate and Gift Tax Planning Basics

Mar 1, 2021 | Written by: John G. Manfreda, Esq. |

There are two ways to transfer assets for estate planning and asset protection planning purposes.  You (“Donor”) can either gift-transfer the assets to the beneficiary (“Donee”) during your lifetime, or you can transfer the assets to the beneficiary through your estate at death. Depending upon which method is used, a very different income tax result is obtained.

New Jersey has no gift tax; and the federal gift tax is essentially irrelevant because a person can, at present, transfer assets by way of gift in excess of $11 million before the federal gift tax will apply.

A major difference results in the tax basis of the Donee. The carry-over tax basis rules apply to lifetime gifts. That is to say, the tax basis in a gifted asset remains unchanged when it is transferred by gift from the Donor to the Donee. If the Donor makes a gift of highly appreciated property, then the Donee will be required to pay a capital gains tax when the property is sold based on the difference between the price for which the asset was sold and the tax basis in the original gifted property when it was in the hands of the Donor.

However, appreciated assets that are transferred to a beneficiary through an estate receive a “step up” in tax basis, such that the subsequent sale of the inherited asset by the estate beneficiary does not result in payment of capital gains tax, absent appreciation in the value of the asset after the decedent’s death.

The foregoing rules must be understood for a family to adequately prepare for asset protection planning. Frequently, parents will gift transfer significant assets to their children to insulate those assets from responsibility for payment of the parents’ anticipated long-term health care costs. However, if parents transfer a highly appreciated asset to children (such as the family home), the resulting capital gains tax payable when the asset is sold by the children could be significant.

There are estate and gift tax planning techniques that can be used in conjunction with asset protection planning to achieve a more beneficial tax result for the family. Please call us for a consultation.

John G. Manfreda


John G. Manfreda, Esq, is a partner with Gebhardt & Kiefer, PC. His primary practice areas involve estate and business planning; estate and trust administrationcorporate, commercial and real estate law, including asset protection planning; business succession planning and related transactional work; and the purchase and sale of businesses. He also has considerable experience in the area of probate litigation, including will contests and the defense of individual and corporate fiduciaries. Contact Mr. Manfreda at 908-735-5161 or via email.

If you have a suggestion for a future blog topic, please feel free to submit it via the Contact Us form.

Any statements made herein are solely for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon or construed as legal advice.