I just came across this answer again and thought it appropriate to update. As part of the "fiscal cliff" bill signed on January 1, 2013, the estate tax exemption was extended at the $5 million level with no sunset provision this time. We also retain the ability for a surviving spouse to use the remainder of a deceased spouse's exemption, allowing married couples to more easily protect up to $10 million. It is still critical, however, that folks in this estate range consult with an attorney who is versed in this area. There are still certain rules with which to comply in order to take advantage of the higher exemptions. Some states also still have their own state estate tax.