If I die in CA in 2014, how much can I own without paying death taxes?

The short answer is $5,340,000.  This means that if you die in 2014 living in California (where there is no inheritance or a separate estate tax), you can own $5,340,000 worth of assets without paying any death or estate taxes, assuming you did not make any taxable transfers during your life time. The exemption equivalent amount is up by $90,000 as compared to 2013.  If you own more than $5,340,000 and you die in 2014, the Federal estate tax is 40% on everything above this amount.  As an example, if a single person was living in Orange County, California and died in 2014 with a taxable estate of $10,000,000, and they had never made any large gifts during their lifetime, the first $5,340,000 can be transferred to the beneficiaries estate tax free, but the remaining $4,660,000 is taxable at a rate of 40%.  The actual estate tax owed on this estate would be $1,864,000.  If you have an estate above $5,340,000, you should call (714) 459-5481 to discuss with experienced estate planning attorneys what options are available to prevent the government from receiving 40% of your estate above the exemption amount.

James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm