When it comes to estate taxes, very few people in Ohio have a comprehensive understanding of just how this process works. While they may not apply to everyone, being aware of the basics of estate taxes is imperative to ensure you retain as much of your assets as possible so that they can be passed along to your heirs.

According to Money, estate tax is a 40 percent flat tax that is owed upon your death. However, each person has an exemption amount of $5.45 million, which means that as long as your estate does not surpass that limit you will be exempted from paying an estate tax. Additionally, if you are married, both you and your spouse will be afforded this exemption amount.  As a result, married couples can distribute as much as $10.9 million to heirs without incurring the 40 percent flat tax.

You can also claim your deceased partner’s exemption by filing the appropriate documentation within nine months of your spouse’s death. It’s important to file as soon as possible to keep fees down. Failure to do so can cause you to lose your claim on your spouse’s exemption, which can be damaging for those with high-value assets and property.

Depending on the state where you live, you may also be subjected to a separate estate tax. In this case, the exemption limits are much lower, and accordingly impact more people than the federal estate tax. Even if property you own is registered in a state with its own estate tax, you could still be required to pay. Some states also have a separate inheritance tax, which will be an obligation of your heirs. In most cases, very close relations will be subjected to a lower tax rate than others.