The Latest on the Estate Tax Lapse

More than a month into 2010, the Internal Revenue Service is not collecting estate tax on the money that wealthy people, including small business owners, leave to their heirs after they die. The unusual situation results because the U.S.Senate did not pass legislation late last year to remedy the scheduled expiration of the estate tax.The situation is confusing and unfair, and particularly hurts entrepreneurs doing succession planning, says Jonathan M.Bergman, a certified financial planner and vice-president of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, a fee-only financial planning firm in Scarsdale, N.Y. He spoke recently to Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

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