While the marital deduction provided for by federal estate tax law may not necessarily be the controlling factor in planning the will of a married person, it is certainly one of the most important factors because of the sheer magnitude of this deduction up to 50% of the adjusted gross estate. A direct consequence of this importance is reflected in the fact that the marital deduction has become the most written-about topic in the estate planning area. Most of what has been written about this subject can be divided into the two following categories: ( 1 ) an explanation of the operation of the marital deduction or one of its facets; or ( 2) a discussion of how to obtain the maximum marital deduction through the use of one of several competing formula clauses.

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