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Hire the Funeral Clowns, Blast My Ashes into Orbit, and Deduct It All!

By William A. Drennan

This article examines the federal estate tax funeral expense deduction, featuring a discussion of allowable expenses, practical tips for maximizing the deduction, and arguments that the reasonableness restrictions in the regulations are invalid. Congress made all funeral expenses deductible under I.R.C. § 2053(a), if those expenses are allowable under the applicable probate law. Although Congress did not create a separate reasonableness requirement under federal law, Treasury Regulation § 20.2053-2 creates a negative implication that certain categories of funeral expenses must be reasonable to be deductible. As there is no federal reasonableness requirement in the statute for deductibility of funeral expenses, the regulation may be invalid because it seeks to impose an extra requirement on some funeral expenses.

The public policy doctrine may invalidate a testamentary direction that is injurious to the public welfare in certain ways, benefits no living person,

The public policy doctrine may invalidate a testamentary direction that is injurious to the public welfare in certain ways, benefits no living person,

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