As of January 1, 2013, the federal estate and gift tax “exemption amount” will go from $5 million to $1 million. The tax rate will increase from 35% to 55% (in some cases higher than 55%). While Congress may change this before year-end (or make retroactive changes early next year), there is no assurance that it will do so.
If your net worth is over $1 million (remember for estate tax purposes you have to add the death benefit of all life insurance) - - you should consult with your estate planning attorney to be sure you are as protected as possible from the federal estate and gift tax.
Asset protection planning is not the same as estate planning. But right now, asset protection planning should include a focus on the dramatic estate and gift tax changes that may become effective at year-end.