On December 17, 2010 The Tax Relief Act was passed. What does this mean for your estate plan? Some of the changes include:
    ✔ - Lowers estate and GST taxes for 2011 and 2012

    ✔ - Provides estates of decedents with new options of decedents dying in 2010

    ✔ - Makes changes to the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax exemption

    ✔ - Gifts made after Dec 31, 2010 reunifies the gift tax with the estate tax

As defined by Wikipedia -- The estate tax in the United States is a tax imposed on the transfer of the "taxable estate" of a deceased person, whether such property is transferred via a will, according to the state laws of intestacy or otherwise made as an incident of the death of the owner, such as a transfer of property from an intestate estate or trust, or the payment of certain life insurance benefits or financial account sums to beneficiaries. The estate tax is one part of the Unified Gift and Estate Tax system in the United States. The other part of the system, the gift tax, imposes a tax on transfers of property during a person's life; the gift tax prevents avoidance of the estate tax should a person want to give away his/her estate.

In addition to the federal government, many states also impose an estate tax, with the state version called either an estate tax or an inheritance tax. Since the 1990s, opponents of the tax have used the pejorative term "death tax". The equivalent tax in the United Kingdom has always been referred to as "inheritance tax". If an asset is left to a spouse or a charitable organization, the tax usually does not apply.