Estate tax is a tax imposed on the net value of the estate of a deceased person before distribution to the beneficiaries.
An estate tax is only applied if the value of the estate exceeds an exclusion limit set by law. The estate tax is mostly imposed on assets left to beneficiaries, other than a living spouse in which an estate tax would not be applied. The fair market value of these items is used; this may not necessarily be what was paid for them or represent what their values were when they were acquired . The includible property may consist of cash and securities, real estate, insurance, trusts, annuities, business interests, and other assets.