The House's decision to extend the current estate tax regime did not come as a surprise to industry observers, who never believed the government would allow the tax rules to expire altogether and give up the much-needed revenue.

Presently, the tax rate — for 2009 only — is 45% for individual estates worth over $3.5 million. This "death tax" is set to be repealed for all of 2010 and then will ratchet upward in 2011 to 55%, with a $1 million exemption. That is unless the Senate takes up the issue.

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