There was much speculation in 2010 that, in the absence of estate tax reform, there would be an uptick in deaths among the wealthy elderly simply to avoid estate taxes.
Absurd? CNBC has collected some relevant facts on elasticity in dates of birth and death.
By keeping hope for estate tax reform alive until the end of the year, I suspect the problem has been avoided. Had Congress reached an agreement in November to, for example, reduce the federal estate tax exemption dramatically on January 1, perhaps the decisions to withdraw life support might have been accelerated for some families.
We've known the cliff was coming for two years, but I never believed we'd actually go over it.