Pursuing the American dream is tough enough these days without having to worry about losing it all in the end. “It’s a weight on your shoulders to have to think about this,” said Patricia Baldwin of Reliable Contracting Company. In this video, Baldwin discusses how the death tax has affected her family’s business, following the loss of Baldwin’s grandparents.

In 1928, her grandfather, Frank G. Baldwin, and his brother, William Baldwin, started a company after purchasing a used truck. When Patricia’s grandparents died, their assets were evaluated to determine their estate tax. Many of the assets were in the form of land, and, as she explains, it can take years to make money off undeveloped property. Ultimately, the company survived by making payments to the IRS of hundreds of thousands of dollars for an entire decade—with interest, of course. It added up to well over 50 percent of the valued assets, she says.

Since then, the company has grown to more than 300 employees. The company has even hired three generations of workers within the same families. Patricia Baldwin explains that the thing about a family business is that “your employees then become family.” Reliable Contracting has become an integral part of the community, supporting the Boys and Girls Club, local schools, little leagues, and the developmentally disabled, among others. But as punishment for all this, the family will face a steep tax when the inevitable happens, and they lose a loved one.

Unless Congress and President Obama stop the fiscal cliff, the death tax will go from 35 percent with a $5 million exemption to 55 percent with a $1 million exemption. That means it will hit even more family businesses.