In terms of the stipulations of section 4 of the Estate Duty Act No 45 of 1955 certain deductions from the value of an estate are allowed in order to determine the final value of the estate which will be subject to estate duty.
The following two rebates are the most well-known:
- Section 4(q) – This is the total value of all the benefits bequeathed to the surviving spouse. The value of a usufruct also qualifies as an Article 4(q) rebate; and
- Section 4A – This is the value of the rebate applied to all estates, which is currently R3.5 million.
Given the value of the section 4A rebate you can rest assured that your estate will not be accountable for estate duty if the net value (assets minus liabilities) is less than R3.5 million. The amount with which your estate exceeds R3.5 million will, however, be taxable for estate duty at 20%.
The Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2010, amended the section 4A rebate by allowing the part of the R3.5 million rebate not used by the estate of the first deceased spouse to be carried over to the estate of the surviving spouse. This amendment applies to the estates of individuals passing away after 1 January 2010.
The carried over rebate between spouses can be illustrated with the following example:
- Mr A, who is married to Mrs A, passes away. The net value of his estate is R800 000 after the rebate according to Article 4(q) has been calculated.
- This amount is bequeathed to his children and therefore not deductible for estate duty.
- There is no accountability for estate duty as Mr A’s estate only used R800 000 of the section 4A rebate of R3.5 million.
- At Mrs A’s passing the net value of her estate is R8 million. The following rebate is applicable to her estate: Section 4A rebate to the value of R7 million minus the R800 000 deduction already utilised in the estate of Mr A.
- Mrs A’s estate will therefore pay estate duty on R1.8 million (R8 million minus R6.2 million).
- R1.8 million @ 20% = R360 000.
We have to put the utmost stress on the importance of estate planning and a will which gives you the best benefits regarding the composition of your assets and liabilities should the net value of your estate exceed R3.5 million. This does not mean that the use of trusts becomes obsolete in estate planning due to the larger rebate in the surviving spouse’s estate. There are still valid reasons why the bequeathment of a trust by the first deceased is an excellent option, even though it does not initially effect a saving in estate duty. In case of such a trust the assets can be managed by the trustees to the benefit of the surviving spouse and children. A small effort today for much peace of mind tomorrow!
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)