When an estate has a transfer of ownership due to death or inheritance, a home owner will need to eventually hire a real estate appraiser in order to show the IRS what the reasonable worth of the estate is. So the owner or heir will obtain a “Date of Death” appraisal, which is an appraised value as of the date of the death of the deceased owner. These appraisals are very commonly ordered within several months of the death of a loved one, but there are three things to consider before ordering the appraisal:
1) Timeline: If your loved one passed away recently and you need to file your taxes very soon, it makes good sense to obtain an appraisal in a timely manner so you can communicate well with the IRS. In other words, if your loved one passed away within six months before you file your taxes, it would likely be prudent to order the “Date of Death” (DOD) appraisal within that timeframe. This is the most common scenario I encounter for the bulk of my estate appraisal workload.
2) Alternative Valuation Date: I mentioned the Date of Death (DOD) appraisal already, but the IRS has also made allowances for a home owner to obtain an Alternative Valuation Date (AVD) six months after the date of death of the owner. Basically, if the market has declined in value after six months since the date of death, you can use the appraised value six months later to show your estate has decreased in value over time due to market circumstances. In this option you would need two appraisals, both a DOD and AVD. If the market has been hit hard, this could be a huge advantage for you for tax purposes. Granted, you would pay for two appraisals (use the same appaiser), but the savings in light of a large decline should far outweigh the cost of the appraisals.
3) CPA / Attorney Advice: Make sure to carefully weigh your options and the implications of using a DOD or AVD appraisal. You should definitely consult with your CPA and/or attorney to talk through which options would be most beneficial for you depending on your plans for the property and the implications for taxation based on using a DOD or AVD.
I am familiar with the estate planning appraisal process, IRS guidelines for appraisals, and I also run an estate appraisal website. Please contact me with any questions. I am always very glad to help answer questions and meet a need for property owners in what is often a difficult time of life.