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Wealth, gifts and estate planning at the end of life

David Sturrock, Stefan Groot and Jan Möhlmann
IFS Working Paper W22/29

We quantify the size and tax-responsiveness of financial transfers made to heirs before death. The wealth of singles (including widows) with children declines substantially in anticipation of death. 92% of this decline is explained by transfers to children, while long-term care copayments can explain the remainder. Tax-reducing transfers are made across the wealth distribution and are very responsive to the tax rate. Using bunching and difference-in-bunching estimation and exploiting a reform to gift taxation, we estimate Frisch elasticities of gifts to the net-of-tax rate between 9, for those giving around €27,000, and 1, for those giving around €125,000.

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