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Most estates -- more than 99.5% -- don't. The federal government imposes estate tax at your death only if your taxable estate is worth more than $5.43 million (for deaths in 2015). Assets left to a surviving spouse (as long as the spouse is a U.S. citizen) pass free of estate tax, no matter what the value. This rule became applicable to same-sex married couples in June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Assets left to a tax-exempt charity are also exempt from estate tax.