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The whole $500K is in mother's estate because it was all her money. Just putting it in a joint account doesn't get it out of her estate.

Now if she made a gift of 1/2 of it, she would have filed a gift tax return--no tax, but must be filed for a gift of that size.

In effect she did make a gift, however, because it all belongs to daughter #1 who is not legally obligated to divide it with other daughters. Ed
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