Here's a link to an article from Evan Cooper at Investment News about a recent webinar on the federal estate tax that the magazine hosted - geared for financial advisors but worthy reading for all those interested in what will happen with the estate tax. There were no definite conclusions by the panel, but most experts agree that estate taxes are likely to go up, rather than down.
One listener, J.B. Stroll, commented: "Having listened to the presentation, I thought a major take-away was that Congressman Rangel had intimated to a speaker that the proposal would be for a "patch" with the existing 2009 rules for one more year. There wasn't time for congress to deal with revamping of the estate taxes." (Emphasis added). This is consistent to what I have heard.
As an estate planning attorney, here's one recommendation from the article I certainly endorse: "When your clients have anything remotely related to estate planning to consider, find a competent estate-planning attorney with whom to work. This stuff is so complicated already — and likely to become even more complex — that your clients will thank you a million times over for helping them get their estate plans in order. A lifetime of hard work can disappear as a result of one tiny mistake, so be ultracareful."