Taxpayers and litigation attorneys often question whether litigation awards or settlements are subject to income tax and federal estate tax. The following are some of the basic rules in this area.
Settlements for wrongful death are tax-free. Although IRS Publication 4345 does not go into a lot of detail, wrongful death claims fall into the category of compensation for physical injuries. Compensatory damages awarded for wrongful death are always income-tax exempt to the survivors.
Although punitive damages are usually taxable, depending on the state law, they may be exempt from income if they are part of a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is considered property of the decedent’s estate and would be includable for estate tax purposes.
However, due to the federal exemption for estate taxes, unless the estate had substantial other assets, this should not be an issue for the following reasons. For decedents dying in 2021, the federal estate tax exemption is $11,700,000. Therefore, as long as the total value of the decedent’s estate, including the settlement, are below these estate tax thresholds applicable for the year of death, there would be no federal estate tax to be paid.
For state inheritance taxes, the taxation of these wrongful death proceeds depends on the specific state involved. For example, Pennsylvania does not subject such awards to their inheritance tax.
“Steve Fromm is a knowledgeable, ethical, and competent estate and business attorney. I’ve worked with Steve and I have found him to be a gentleman and a true professional.”
Andy Meehan, President, Andrew M Meehan Inc.
Hiring Steven was quite possibly the best decision of my life! Steven took the time to hear every single one of my concerns and address them in an extremely clear, concise and thorough manner. He guided me through the notoriously complicated and stressful process of probate with the utmost of compassion and dedication. Thank you Steven!
I highly recommend Steven J. Fromm for all your estate and tax planning needs. He has the most complete and thorough knowledge of current as well as pending federal, state, and local tax codes of any professional that I have ever been involved with. His ability to totally sort out your current financial condition and relate it to a plan to minimize your tax liability and allow you to sleep at night is without equal. He is professional, timely, creative, and an advocate for your needs, whether its personal or business. You can be assured that you will be well taken care of, with cutting edge/ sound financial and tax advice by Steven J. Fromm.
I have always found Steve to be very responsive, accurate and creative in legal matters presented to him. He demonstrates a good business sense. We have collaborated on several highly technical issues over the years. I look forward to our continuing relationship.
Steven has been instrumental in helping my partner and I to create a secure and satisfying estate plan, which meets or exceeds all of our wishes and contains contingencies for everything from medical issues to wealth management and living wills. In this process, Steven has also become a friend. If you need Estate Planning, Tax Advice, a Will or a trust, etc., we highly recommend Steven Fromm, Esquire. He will listen and be sensitive to your unique situation.
Steve is an excellent attorney who has provided help for my family personally for business, tax, and other services for many years. He is extremely knowledgeable and thorough, and is extremely good at explaining legal concepts to me in clear terms understandable to a non-attorney. It is difficult to pick only three attributes above, since Steve’s work meets most if not all of the attributes above.
Steve is an excellent corporate attorney who has a deep understanding of corporate law, taxes and estate planning. He’s been extremely helpful to me in keeping my many companies and business ventures organized, focused and squeaky clean. He’s very strong in estate planning and wealth preservation as well. Finally, his follow through is air tight and utterly dependable.
Steven is a trusted adviser. We depend on him for so many things. He is patient, listens to our needs and makes excellent suggestions. He is extremely talented. We value his advice and have recommended him unhesitatingly to friends and family.
Steve Fromm is a superb lawyer and I highly recommend him! After a terrible experience with a previous lawyer concerning an estate administration, I entered his office feeling very deflated, confused and discouraged. However, I left his office feeling enthusiastic and eager to get down to business. My situation was very unique, I needed his expertise for an array of things and Steve was able to address all of my needs. With a limited timeframe and an extreme amount of obstacles to overcome he worked meticulously, diligently and accomplished extraordinary results. His professionalism is incomparable and I am forever grateful.
1420 Walnut Street Suite 300
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From their offices in Philadelphia, PA, the law firm of Steven J. Fromm & Associates, P.C. provides a full range of estate planning, probate and estate administration, tax, business and corporate legal services to clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania and the Delaware Valley, the Lehigh Valley Area, the Five-County Area, Bucks County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Philadelphia County, Berks County, Lehigh County, Lancaster County, York County, Harrisburg, Norristown, Doylestown, Media, West Chester, Allentown, Lancaster, and Reading.