From the Estate Tax Table above, it can be easily seen that it is not only the wealthy that must pay for estate taxes. The Estate Tax is a contributing factor in estate shrinkage in both the large and moderate-sized estates. Estate Taxes take a big bite out of the estate one intends to leave behind for the heirs, with tax rate as high as 40% of the net estate in 2013.The heirs of decedents who die in 2010 will have the choice to use the $5,000,000 estate exemption/35% estate tax rate or $0 estate tax exemption/0% estate tax rate coupled with use of the modified carryover basis rules. Take note that Estate Taxes are not the only charges that take a man-size chunk out of an estate before it reaches one's heirs. There are other charges that must be made against the gross estate before it can finally be transferred to the heirs. Nevertheless, before going into the enumeration of several items that contributes to estate shrinkage, let us first discuss what are the properties that comprise one's gross estate.