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The estate-planning community is facing an unusual situation this year. The federal estate tax expired at the end of 2009, so in 2010 there is no tax – so far, anyway. The majority of Americans won’t notice the change because their estates are too small to be affected. But this is causing some degree of confusion for estate planners and their clients. Most people assumed Congress would enact legislation to reinstate the tax by the end of 2009. But they didn’t. Many think Congress will restore the tax – the exemption hit $3.5 million in 2009 – this year and make it retroactive; if they don’t, it will come back on its own in 2011 at $1 million.

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