If you have a large portfolio, now might be the best time for you to speak to an Estate Planning attorney about how you can leave assets to your heirs. Different estates should use different options. However, an expected change in the law means that one option will become a lot worse at the end of 2012.
Currently, you can take advantage of the estate tax and inheritance tax exemptions to transfer up to $10 million to your heirs tax free. Some of that needs to be transferred this year. At the start of next year, you will only be able to transfer $1 million gift tax free. That is a very significant change that all wealthy people should take into consideration immediately.
It is likely that the gift and estate tax exemptions will change again in the future. However, they may never be as high as they are today and you should not rely on the whims of Washington politics in planning your estate. Talk to an estate planning attorney to see if gifting this year is the right plan for you. For some people it will not be the best option. However, you will not know whether it is appropriate for your estate unless you ask an attorney.