Many folks wait until the end of the year to make their gifts - both gifts to charities and gifts to individuals. This year the annual exclusion from the gift tax is $13,000. (On January 1, 2013 it rises to $14,000.) A person may give up to $13,000 to as many recipients as he or she wishes. This is a great way to reduce your estate. The gifts are not income to the recipients, and there are no gift tax ramifications. The donor doesn't even have to file a gift tax return. If you have 2 children and 8 grandchildren, you could make ten $13,000 gifts totaling $130,000. That $130,000 is completely gift tax and estate tax free.
A new 3.8% surtax on certain investment income starts January 1, 2013, as part of the health care reform legislation. It applies to net investment income of higher-income individuals. The 3.8% surtax is in addition to your regular income tax, and it is also in addition to any alternative minimum tax.
The ability to make a will is a right given by state statute. If you don't make a will, the state law of intestacy determines who gets your property. If you do make a will and things in your life change, sometimes state law causes a change in your will. This is called "modification by circumstances." In these cases, what your will states is overridden by the state law.