The estate tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of the “taxable estate” of every decedent who is a citizen or resident of the United States.  This applies whether such property is transferred via a will, according to the state laws of intestacy or otherwise made as an incident of the death of the owner, such as a transfer of property from an intestate estate or trust, or the payment of certain life insurance benefits or financial account sums to beneficiaries.  The estate tax is one part of the Unified Gift and Estate Tax system in the United States.  The other part of the system, the gift tax, imposes a tax on transfers of property during a person’s life; the gift tax prevents avoidance of the estate tax should a person want to give away his/her estate.