The estate tax exemption was about to go down to $1,000,000 starting January 1, 2013, but the 2012 Tax Relief Act permanently extended the $5,000,000 gift and estate tax exemption. That exemption is projected to be $5,250,000 for 2013, and through indexing it will go up in the future. The estate and gift tax rate is 40% (a compromise between the 45% rate that the Congressional Democrats wanted and the 35% rate that the Congressional Republicans wanted)
Portability, the ability of the surviving spouse to file a timely estate tax return for the first-spouse-to-die and to thereby add that spouse’s exemption to the surviving spouse’s own exemption, has been made permanent.
Unless and until new legislation is enacted, taxpayers no longer need to worry about the estate tax exemption going down or the portability legislation going away.