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estate tax

n. generally a federal tax on the transfer of a dead person's assets to his heirs and beneficiaries. Although a transfer tax, it is based on the amount in the decedent's estate (including distribution from a trust at the death) and can include insurance proceeds. Currently such federal taxation applies to the amount of an estate above $600,000, or as much as double that amount if the estate is distributed to a spouse. Some states have an estate tax, more commonly called an inheritance tax.


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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications