Q. I’m receiving inheritance after the death of my domestic partner. Is it subject to inheritance tax?
A. We’re sorry to hear of your loss.
New Jersey remains one of the few states that imposes an inheritance tax, said Richard Miller, an attorney and chair of the elder law department at Mandelbaum Salsburg in Roseland..
Miller said the inheritance tax is not based on the size of the estate, but on who receives the estate.
There are different Classes of beneficiaries, each of which is treated differently for inheritance tax purposes.
“No inheritance tax is imposed on transfers to Class `A’ beneficiaries, which include a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or step-child,” he said. “With the enactment of the New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act in 2003, domestic partners are also now included as a Class `A’ beneficiary exempt from inheritance tax with respect to decedents dying on or after July 10, 2004.”
Miller said the Domestic Partnership Act permits same sex couples to register as domestic partners in New Jersey. It also allows opposite sex couples who are at least 62 years of age to register as domestic partners.
“This is accomplished by meeting the established legal requirements and having a local registrar issue a Certificate of Domestic Partnership,” he said. “The inheritance tax exemption applies even if the domestic partnership was entered in another jurisdiction.”
Miller said documentation of the domestic partnership is critical to avoid the inheritance tax because common law marriage is not recognized in New Jersey.
“As a result, it often comes as an unwelcome surprise to the survivor of an unmarried couple in a long-term relationship — who did not qualify or register as a domestic partner — that the bequest he or she receives is subject to an inheritance tax at a rate of 15 percent,” Miller said.
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