Yes, all of your assets are subject to federal estate taxes, whether they pass to a joint tenant or to a named beneficiary in a trust. Even the proceeds of the life insurance policy you own on your life, that will pass to the beneficiary outside of the probate process, is still included in your gross estate for estate tax purposes. The same is true for all assets that you own that have a named beneficiary, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), pension plans with Death Benefits, and Pay on Death Bank Accounts (Totten Trusts).
Only those assets passing to the surviving spouse pass tax-free. All others are subject to Estate Taxes and the Life Time Estate Tax Exemption.
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