1 . Estate taxes, etc.

In late 2010, Congress was faced with the potential of the 2001 tax rules – known as the ‘Bush tax cuts’ – expiring.

For more, see estate taxes

“They came in very late in the year and passed a bill that basically gives us a two-year reprieve. It basically extends the law through 2012.

“One of the big portions of that law has to do with the relief – some would call it a tax increase – with respect to estate tax, gift tax and generation-skipping tax (transfer tax). Now, instead of no estate tax (the rule in 2009), the estate tax is reinstated at a $5 million exemption. Taxable amounts above that are taxed at 35 percent.

“So, we went from a zero tax last year to a 35 percent tax on amounts above $5 million. That $5 million exclusion is portable between spouses – if both die in 2011/2012, it will be a true $10 million exclusion without the need to do some high-brow and expensive estate-planning techniques.”