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The Mayans Were Talking About Estate Tax in 2012

All those Mayan predictions about the end of the world in 2012, were, it turns out, warnings about the massive cataclysms that would affect the estate tax arena in 2012.

How do we know? Because after 2012 estate tax will not be the same, reports Fidelity. Consider the following:

For 2012, the current law provides a generous $5,120,000 per person federal estate tax exemption and taxes estates over that amount at a top rate of 35%. This compares with a $1 million per person federal estate tax exemption and a 55% effective top tax rate scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2013.

This makes 2012 an important time for couples to get their estate planning in order.

The year 2012 is also particularly important because of the so called estate tax portability provisions that are available this year, as reported by FindLaw's KnowledgeBase.

The portability provision is the IRS's way to make sure that married couples get the maximum benefit of the estate tax exemptions. The provision basically allows for the transfer of an unused exemption of a decedent to his or her surviving spouse, thus allowing for more of the exemptions to be used by the couple's total marital estate.

These new tax laws — like anything tax-related can be extremely beneficial if used correctly and quite harmful if applied improperly. Regardless of whether you have a sizable estate or a humble one, working with an experienced estate planning attorney in this important year for estate tax is the best way to make sure your life's work doesn't disappear.

You know, like the world.

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