(ABC News) While critics have dismissed Sarah Palin's "death panels" to dole out medical care as fiction, a tax loophole may in fact give the heirs of some wealthy people a financial incentive to make this new year their loved one's last.
In 2001, then-President George W. Bush signed a law designed to phase out the estate tax -- a tax on the assets a deceased individual leaves behind. The law reduced the amount wealthy families were taxed after death starting in 2001 -- leading to complete abolition of the tax in 2010, but at the same time it concerned some because of the financial implications of the date when someone died.
For example, a wealthy person who dies on January 1, 2011, and left her heirs $10 million would really be leaving them $5.05 million because of taxes. If they died a day earlier (assuming no changes were made in tax laws), the heirs could receive the full $10 million.