The death tax, as many refer to the Estate Tax, was changed earlier in the decade so that in 2009 it would impose a tax rate of 45 percent to the estates of people who die with more than $3.5 million in assets. Before the law was changed — back in 2001 — the death tax had applied a tax rate up to 55 percent on estates in excess of $1 million. Now, without action on the part of Congress to set up a plan or new law for the estate tax, in 2010 there is no tax on estates of persons dying this year. In 2011, however, the law will revert back to how it existed before the 2001 law change, with a $1 million exemption and up to 55 percent tax on the deceased’s assets following a death.
Under the 2009 law, just 6,000 estates throughout the country would have had to pay the estate tax. In 2011, when all estates worth more than $1 million will be subject to the death tax, more than 61,000 estates could be affected.
Note many States “decoupled” with the Federal Estate Tax Exemption and apply a State Estate Tax usually for estates exceeding $675,000. This results in many estates dealing with State Death Taxes.