The estate tax is inherently evil. It's YOUR money. You should decide to whom to leave it.
You can leave it to your church or even give all to the government! You can even burn it all in a bonfire right before you die; if you did that the government would have nothing left to tax. So why can't you leave it to your children?
Why is it that when you die your heirs are responsible for 100% of your debts but your heirs are not able to get 100% of your property? When you die, it does NOT extinguish your debts. Your debts are still YOUR responsibility even from beyond the grave. Your debts do not disappear on your death. Someone still must pay for them and that "someone" is your heirs. So . . . if the heirs are liable for your debts, and your estate still must pay your debts after you're gone, then fairness dictates that your heirs should receive your property. And ALL of your property.
The government taxes 35% of your estate after a minimal exemption. Should not the government also PAY OFF 35% of your debts when you die?
And another thing: Folks say, "Well, the kids didn't EARN that money! So if they didn't earn it, they shouldn't get it." My response: First, the money was earned. It was earned by the family. Someone had to earn the money. If I earned the money then it's my money and I should be able to leave to whomever I want. The money should be kept in the family.
Second, who earns anything? Your IQ may be higher than mine. This higher IQ of yours allows you to get better jobs and live a better life. But did you EARN your IQ??? NO! You were just born smart. You didn't do anything to get a high IQ; you were just born that way. Should we lobotomize all smart people to put them on the same IQ level as everyone else? Same thing with folks who are culturally defined as beautiful. They didn't do anything to be beautiful. They were just born that way. But because they are beautiful, they have no trouble getting dates and living more exciting lives. So . . . inherited wealth just evens out the playing field. It is actually very fair because without it, the ugly and the dumb have no chance.
Third, the family farm gets taxed with a whopping estate tax after the farmer/owner dies. The farm itself is included in his /her estate wealth and is taxed heavily. Suppose that two days after farmer's son and only heir pays off the estate tax on the farm, that son dies. Now THE SAME PROPERTY--THE FARM--GETS TAXED AGAIN BY THE ESTATE TAX!!! The heir just finished paying off the estate tax of the first farmer on the farm and now that heir is dead and the new heirs must pay another estate tax on the same farm!! The same property is taxed over and over and over again.
Fourth, the farm is a sunken cost. The farm generates little income and yet its property value is included in the estate tax. That means in order to pay the estate tax the farmer must sell the farm (on which he has worked, slaved and invested his whole life building into a barely profitable enterprise so that s/he could leave a little something to the children). The farm is sold and that farmer's employees are out of jobs and an ongoing concern vanishes. It is the total destruction of the American Dream.
Finally, private wealth acts as a bulwark against overbearing government. When all the populace is poor then all power is in the hands of government bureaucrats and commisars. Ideas once considered wild-eyed and unpopular have gained traction only because a few rich men and women decided to support those ideas. There was initially (REPEAT: INITIALLY) no public groundswell for women's suffrage; a few rich men and women (the Pankhursts) got behind the once radical idea of votes for women and now that idea is a fundamental right. Likewise with the civil rights movement which was initially financed by a few people considered radicals and dangerous by the government's FBI. Same thing with the anti-war movement: that movement started with a few rich liberals backing an initially unpopular idea. The same goes for the gay rights movement today: it is financed by well-to-do backers who are pushing an agenda that once was considered radical but today is becoming more mainstream. REMEMBER: it didn't start with the grass roots demanding this but with a few rich willing to spend on initially unpopular ideas. Without those rich the ideas would not have gained attention or any traction with the general populace.