What Has to Be Appraised for an Estate?

By Valerie Stevens

The purpose of probate is to pay the debts, funeral costs and taxes of a deceased person’s estate and transfer the remaining assets to his beneficiaries. The word probate is derived from the Latin word “probatio,” meaning to prove. Probate can be described as the process of proving a decedent's estate is being administered according to law. With that in mind, appraisals are used to prove the true value of assets are accounted for when they are transferred.

The purpose of probate is to pay the debts, funeral costs and taxes of a deceased person’s estate and transfer the remaining assets to his beneficiaries. The word probate is derived from the Latin word “probatio,” meaning to prove. Probate can be described as the process of proving a decedent's estate is being administered according to law. With that in mind, appraisals are used to prove the true value of assets are accounted for when they are transferred.

Personal Representative

The personal representative, or estate administrator, is named in the will or appointed by the probate court and charged with the responsibility of administering the estate. The personal representative is a fiduciary; therefore, she must manage the deceased's affairs in the best interest of the estate. In most cases, she is required to locate the deceased's debts and assets and file an estate inventory and appraisement with the court, which provides an assessment of the estate's value.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Appraisals

In general, any asset that does not have a readily apparent value must be appraised. State laws vary, but the personal representative usually can provide appraisals for assets that have a set value, such as cash, stocks, bonds and bank accounts. Items that would require an independent appraisal include real estate, collectible vehicles, boats, antique furniture and just about any item of significant worth that has an unknown value. Appraisals should reflect the fair market value as of the date of death. Some states, such as California and Texas, require the fair market value of the appraised asset to reflect whether the property was the separate property of the decedent or the decedent's one-half interest in community property shared with his surviving spouse.

Qualified Appraisers

States vary widely regarding who is qualified to be an appraiser for probate court purposes. Most states specify that the appraiser must be a certified professional who is a disinterested person. Other states, such as California, require appraisers, called probate referees, to pass stringent education and testing requirements. The California State Controller's Office designates a probate referee for an estate once the personal representative is appointed.

Other Considerations

Even when a formal appraisal is deemed unnecessary, there can be good reasons to have one conducted. For example, an appraisal that reflects the current, higher value of an asset that has appreciated since it is was originally acquired can help minimize any capital gains tax a beneficiary may be assessed upon inheriting the asset. What's more, the IRS might be less likely to question valuations in a taxable estate when appraisals are attached.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Why Does a Probate Require an Appraisal on the Decedent's Property Upon Death?

References

Related articles

What Happens When the Bank Is the Executor of Your Will?

Making a will can be a stressful, emotional experience. The individual who makes the will, known as the testator, has to determine what happens to her property after she dies. The testator typically also appoints an executor to manage her estate. Some testators appoint a family member as executor, while others appoint an institution such as a bank.

What Is a Probate Sale?

When a person passes away, his property is generally placed into an estate and goes through probate. Probate is a process in which a court assesses the validity of a will, appoints someone to oversee the management of the estate, ensures the deceased person’s debts are paid, and makes sure all remaining estate property goes to the proper beneficiaries of the deceased. Part of that process may require the sale of assets that are in the probate estate.

How to Get an Accounting of My Mother's Estate

Although estate laws vary from one state to another, all states permit you to obtain an accounting of your mother's estate. An accounting is part of the overall probate process. The probate of an estate is a court-supervised process to gather the assets of the person who died, identify and pay any debts, and make a distribution of the remaining assets. Distribution means giving estate property to those individuals identified in a will or, if no will exists, according to the laws of the state where the deceased person lived.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Who Signs an Inventory of an Estate and What Information Is Important?

The inventory of an estate is signed by the estate's executor, or personal representative. The personal representative ...

Responsibilities of the Executor of a Will After Death

The final wishes of a person after death are found in his will, and are carried out by the person he named as executor. ...

California Executor Checklist

The executor is the person who manages the estate of the deceased, also known as the decedent, during the probate ...

How Does an Executor of a Will Split Up Property?

Ideally, executors find themselves charged with the duty of probating a will that leaves everything to a single ...

Browse by category