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On January 1, 2012, the federal estate tax exemption rate increased to $5.12 million for an individual ($10.24 million for a couple). That’s up 2.4% from $5 million in 2011. This means that estates get an additional $120,000 that is exempt from the federal estate tax rate of 35%. Planning your estate to take advantage of emerging beneficial tax laws is imperative, especially for estates valued between $5 and $20 million.