Updates to Federal Estate Tax Law (2011)
For people dying in 2011 and 2012, the exemption amount for paying no federal estate taxes has been increased from $3.5 million to $5 million. The gift tax exemption amount and generation-skipping exemption amount has also been increased to $5 million. The tax rate for estates above $5 million for all three taxes will now be 35%. Under the new amendment, married couples can now pass on up to $10 million to their heirs. This is possible now because married couples are allowed to use the unused portion of the estate tax exemption of the first spouse to die and apply it to the estate tax exemption of the surviving spouse. These new additions are only on the books for people dying in 2011 and 2012. So even if your estate is within the exemption amount, you should still consult an attorney for estate planning, including estate tax planning advice.