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How to put a value on common types of estate property

A previous post on this blog talked about how when it comes to estate administration, one of our law office's most important services is providing help with asset valuation on the estate's property. How much each piece of property is worth answers a lot of critical questions that will ultimately determine how much a Rochester, New York family will receive in inheritance and how much of the estate will go to the government in the form of taxes.

Probably the easiest types of property to value are things like bank accounts, other savings accounts, cash and other types of funds that have a definite value. Basically, the value is the dollar amount of the account on the day the person died. Things like publicly traded stock are also relatively easy to value, since doing so is just a matter of knowing the stock price on the day of death.

Other items, like real estate, are a little more difficult to put a value on. Ultimately, the value of a house or land is what an unrelated third party would pay for it in a sale. If the real estate is not going to be sold, it may be necessary to hire a real estate appraiser. Sometimes, though, using a real estate website, official property assessments or a realtor's market analysis may be enough to get a reasonable estimate of a property's value. Putting a value on an investment property, like a rental, can be particularly tricky since the property not only could be sold but also produces income.

The important thing to remember about personal property is that the vast majority of it really has little or even know monetary value, even if it has a lot of sentimental value. Even if it evokes fond memories, most furniture, for example, could not be re-sold for a lot of money. Those valuable items, like antiques, collections or quality jewelry, probably need to be appraised separately.

While in some cases, asset valuation is relatively straightforward, in other cases, it can prove to be quite tricky and may be best accomplished with the help of a New York estate attorney.

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