By Karin Price Mueller | for
on April 11, 2017 at 8:49 AM, updated April 11, 2017 at 10:58 AM

Q. If one has an estate that exceeds the exemption limit, is the tax on the amount above the limit or on the entire estate? I’m confused.
— Trying to get it

A. The estate tax can certainly be confusing.

A federal estate tax is imposed only on that portion of the estate’s value that exceeds the exemption amount, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

For 2017, the federal amount exempted from death taxes is $5.49 million, and the top federal estate tax rate is 40 percent, she said.

The answer is more complicated for New Jersey’s estate tax.