Estate planning professionals spend a great deal of time trying to project the estate taxes that may be due and devising strategies to lower the eventual tax burden.

This is understandable. Very large estates with a net value in excess of $5,340,000 face the federal estate tax, with a top tax rate of 40%. And some states impose steep taxes. In Washington State, for instance, each estate with a net value in excess of $2 million faces a top rate of 20%.

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