Originally Posted by SlideStop
Yeah, she can will the estate to her, but the government will still make you pay taxes on it. Unless you are legally spouses you can't just will an asset, like a car or house. For example a family friend of mine, on paper, "gave" me a car for $0. I STILL have to pay tax on the book value of the car even though it was given to me. If the eyes of the government they were just friends, not married and not family, therefore she does not get her inheritance.
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Yes and no. The tax consequences is actually no different whether leaving an asset to a spouse than it is to a total stranger. What comes into play is a spouse's claim on whatever the asset may be, and that varies from state to state...some states are community property states, some are not, and some incorporate some variation of community property.
Quite honestly, if a person left enough to incur taxes that high, considering the exempt amount, they should have been of sufficient means to go to a CPA or tax attorney and make arrangements, either through a trust or life insurance vehicle to avoid or compensate for that much tax to be incurred without an offset. I mean no disrespect for or to anyone, but this sounds like a serious lack of financial planning to me by someone to whom professional financial and estate planning was easily within their means...