It comes as a surprise to some people that there can be a tax imposed on your assets after you pass away. The extent of the taxation can vary depending on where you happen to reside in the United States. When you examine the facts you find that in California we are rather fortunate in this regard.
To understand these taxes you have to know the difference between an estate tax and an inheritance tax. The estate tax is imposed on the entirety of the estate before it is passed on to the heirs. There is a federal estate tax that affects everyone including residents of California. But, there is no estate tax on the state level in California although a number of states do have such a levy.
An inheritance tax must be paid by the heir to an estate on his or her inheritance. So, the inheritance is going to be shaved down by the estate tax or taxes and then the individual receiving the bequest has to pay yet another levy on his or her inheritance. Once again, in California we are fortunate because there is no inheritance tax.
If you want to keep your resources intact as they are being passed along to your loved ones you must be aware of any tax exposure that you may have and take action to gain tax efficiency if necessary. The best way to evaluate your position is with the assistance of an experienced and qualified estate planning lawyer.