Families: Of Man's Estate

The right strategy for estate planning can mean huge tax savings and happy heirs

You may have heard whispers about a movement in Congress to eliminate the so-called death tax, the amount the Federal Government lifts from your estate before heirs get what's coming to them. Nice thought. Estate taxes can be whoppers. The maximum rate--on estates over $3 million--is 55%. Even the lowest rate is stiff: 37% on everything you're unable to shelter.

Estate taxes are essentially a levy on savings that have already been taxed, triggered by the money passing from one generation to the next. That smacks of double taxation, and Republicans have said they'd like to put an end to the...

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