The present value of any structured settlement annuity payments remaining after the death of the measuring life will be included in his or her gross estate for estate tax purposes.
Recipients of very large settlements or those who are otherwise wealthy should consider the impact of estate taxes on their structured settlement if some payments are scheduled to continue after death. In 2018, this tax issue is only a problem if the decedent’s gross estate exceeds $11,200,000. The present value of any payments remaining after the death of the measuring life will be included in his or her gross estate. IRC Section 2039 states in part: “The gross estate shall include the value of an annuity … receivable by any beneficiary by reason of surviving the decedent under any form of contract … , if … an annuity or other payment was payable to the decedent … for his life or for any period not ascertainable without reference to his death or for any period which does not in fact end before his death.” Inclusion in the estate can cause a liquidity problem. Commutation riders arranged at the time of settlement allow for the conversion of guaranteed future payments, providing immediate funds to pay any applicable estate taxes.