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Dear Dr. Tightwad - In reply to your inquiry as to whether the tooth fairy still makes an appearance and what's the going rate per tooth, I'd like to tell you how the last lost tooth in our house was handled.

Before my 6-year-old daughter lost her first tooth, I cross-stitched a little "tooth fairy" pillow with a pocket on it. That became her special place for each lost tooth. She made a special request to the tooth fairy via letter to please leave her last tooth behind because her daddy wanted to save it.Here is how the money added up on the last tooth. First, my daughter charged her father $1 for each time he tried to pull it out. It took three tries, for $3. Then the tooth fairy left her $1 for the tooth - which she sold to Daddy for $1.

Daddy owed her $4 (counting the three tries), but he didn't have change for a $5 bill and she got to keep the extra $1. So her last lost tooth cost the tooth fairy a total of $6.

The tooth fairy also leaves a little surprise, such as a coloring book. As you can see, in our household the experience of losing a tooth is usually a big deal!

Question - I've heard about something called a family partnership, which supposedly offers income- and estate-tax breaks while letting you retain some control over assets given to children and grandchildren. Sounds great, but is it something I should consider?

Answer - Not unless you have an estate in excess of $2 million and own either a business or real estate holdings that are appreciating in value. That's the profile of the typical candidate for a family limited partnership (FLP), says Stephan Leimberg, professor of taxation and estate planning at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

For people who fit the description, an FLP can be as good as it's cracked up to be. You set up the partnership under your state law and give family members limited interests in the business or other assets, such as rental property, while you remain the general partner.

That way, you shift wealth and split income among the limited partners, but you still retain a voice in such things as which investments the partnership makes and how much it pays out in a given year.

Family limited partnerships are too complex and too expensive for smaller estates; setting one up costs a minimum of several thousand dollars in legal fees, and you'll also need tax advice and possibly a property appraisal. And FLPs generally aren't suitable for giving away assets such as marketable securities.

To qualify as a legal partnership, the new entity must involve some kind of business activity.