Why Does Probate Require an Estate Appraisal?

June 3, 2019 6:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

After a person passes away, the probate court in the county in which they died will require that an estate appraisal be performed on the deceased’s property. This leads to an accurate assessment of the cash value of all the estate’s property as of the date of death.

Why is this required, and how is it helpful? Here is some information that may interest you from a real estate appraiser in Napa County, CA.

Why you have to get an appraisal

As mentioned above, the appraisal is required so the court can record the actual cash value of the estate. That total dollar figure measures the estate’s value based on the value of individual assets. But why is this so important?

The primary reason is so that the estate can be divided equally and fairly among heirs and beneficiaries. In some cases, the probate laws of an area may require equal distribution of assets among certain heirs. Some wills specifically state the percentages of the estate value that certain heirs will receive. In either case, professional appraisals are necessary to determine the actual property values.

In addition, these appraisals are required by state and federal law to determine whether or not the estate will be affected by the estate tax. While very few estates are actually subject to the tax in any given year, it’s still required that the estate be valued just to be sure it doesn’t (or does) meet the requirements for the estate tax.

The types of property to be appraised

An appraiser will likely not go through and place a value on every single object found in the deceased’s home—that could take forever. However, the estate administrator (named by the deceased in his or her will) will develop a thorough inventory of all property, including personal property, real property, retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets.

This inventory will include both non-cash (vehicles, jewelry, real estate, other items of value) and cash (bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts) assets. Cash assets do not require appraisals, because you can easily check the balance and see their value. It’s the non-cash assets you need to worry about with the appraisal. These assets should be analyzed by a professional to determine their value.

Again, you don’t have to worry about every single item in the home. It’s items of value that we’re most concerned with, or categories of items as a whole that can be given a general value.

You may be assigned an estate appraiser from the court, or you may be able to choose your own to work with. Either way, before the distribution of assets can occur, you must get the estate appraisal done to adhere to federal law.

To schedule an appraisal, or to receive more information about estate appraisals and why and how they’re performed, we encourage you to contact County Appraisals Inc. to speak with our professional team of real estate appraisers in Napa County, CA. We look forward to assisting you soon!

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