The reason is largely the estate tax. Currently, estates valued at $5.12 million are exempt (or $10.24 million for couples.) Next year, unless Congress acts, the exemption will drop to $1 million for individuals and couples.
What’s more, the estate-tax rate jumps to 55 percent from 35 percent.
“At these levels, many more families will be affected by the federal estate tax. Compromise legislation is floating about, but movement is always ponderous in election years,” McCausland writes.
There is another reason 2013 is a bad year to die: a new surtax from Obamacare goes into effect, levying 3.8 percent on certain trusts and estates income.
All of this creates an added incentive for the wealthy stay healthy in 2013. Their heirs also have an interest in seeing their wealthy parents hang on through the next year or two.
If 2010 was the year of “Throw Momma from the train," in 2013 it may be “Keep Mom and Dad alive.”
-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank