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Wealthy Lock In Low Gift Levy as Time Runs Out on 0% Estate Tax

The 84-year-old widow gathered her children at the Chicago offices of the law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP and told them they were going to get a special Christmas gift this year: half of her $20 million fortune.

The decision to pass on her money while still alive was prompted by the deadlock in Congress over renewing Bush-era tax cuts that could make providing for her heirs much more costly if she dies after Dec. 31.