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Business groups cheered last weekend as Congress passed a tax-cut package that puts to rest the so-called "death tax." But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the enthusiasm over its demise may be greatly exaggerated.
The very slow death of the estate tax _ which is scheduled to phase out through 2010 _ and its scheduled return a year later means most wealthy families and small business can't fire the insurance broker just yet. Family-owned businesses have been fighting for years to repeal the estate tax, complaining that they are too often forced to sell out after the owner dies or to buy huge life insurance policies to pay off estate taxes and keep the business afloat.
The new law gradually increases the amount of money that is exempt from estate taxes, from …