If you are concerned about your heirs being responsible for a hefty tax burden on the money and property you own when you die, you may not need to worry. Most Americans do not have to be overly concerned about the Estate Tax. In fact, the Estate Tax only affects approximately two percent of the population. Estate taxes are not owed for total values under $5,250,000 for deaths occurring in 2013.
How is your estate value figured? Your "gross estate" includes the fair market value of property including cash, securities, real estate, insurance, trust, annuities, businesses, and other assets. Your "taxable estate" however is reduced by items such as mortgage and other debts, property passing to a surviving spouse, and monies willed to charities. Estate tax would be paid on the value of the remainder.