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Wealthy Take Estate-Tax Exemptions Beyond Grave Until 2013

Wealthy individuals in the U.S. will find it easier to cut their estate-tax bill as a result of a provision for using their deceased spouses’ exemption credit.

Everybody has a gift and estate-tax exemption of up to $5 million this year and next. For people who died after Dec. 31, 2010, any unused portion of that can now be passed by the estate to the surviving spouse, according to tax legislation enacted by Congress in December. Before that law, couples set up specialized trusts and had to be sure their assets were divided up in a certain way.