Money and property transferred during a lifetime or after death are subject to federal taxes under an estate and gift-tax system.
But there are exceptions. All assets left to a surviving spouse are exempt from the tax. Individuals can give anyone else up to $600,000 in gifts and bequests tax-free, or $1.2 million per married couple.
The tax rates for transfers exceeding $600,000 range from 37% to 55%. Some states also levy taxes, though often on amounts smaller than $600,000.