Federal estate taxes were first collected in 1916. Under 2001 tax legislation they have been phased out and the estate tax expired in 2010.

The exemption amount will return to $1 million with the maximum tax rate of 55% in 2011 if Congress fails to extend the 2001 Act. The estate tax is currently being debated in Congress and the future of the estate tax and the exemption amount are uncertain. Congress may: 1) repeal the estate tax completely, 2) set the estate tax exemption at a different figure going forward, or 3) set the exemption at some figure (possibly less than $1 million) that will be retroactively effective in 2010. Regardless of the outcome, you can take action to reduce or eliminate estate taxes if you plan now. .

How do I determine the value of my estate?

Add your assets and then subtract your debts. Include your home, business interests, bank accounts, investments, personal property, IRAs, retirement plans and death benefits from your life insurance.