Although sometimes not discussed as much as it really should be, one of the most important legal issues that comes up in the estate administration process is the valuation of the property of the estate. Valuation is particularly important because putting the wrong value on a piece of property can mean the estate does not get divided correctly in accord with terms of the will or Texas law, as the case may be. Poor property valuation can also create tension between heirs and beneficiaries and even lead to litigation.
Furthermore, not putting the right value on an estate can lead to trouble with federal taxing authorities, assuming of course that the person's estate is large enough to be taxed at the federal level.
For some types of property, getting a value is simple enough. For example, bank accounts, stocks traded on the open market and other financial accounts with a definite dollar value can be evaluated for estate purposes simply by determining how the account's balance on the date of the person's death.
Other items are not quite as easy to value. For example, while someone can estimate the value of a home or other piece of real estate using tax records, recent sale prices and other figures, the only definitive ways to get a value is either to appraise the real estate or to sell it in an arm's length transaction.
Likewise, a person's belongings and furnishings may require an appraisal. Houston families should be aware, however, that just because an item has a lot of sentimental value, it does not mean that the item has any real economic value. Many times, personal belongings have no real value and can be given a rough estimate.
Putting a value on the property of an estate is not always easy task but is important step. Sometimes, the assistance of an experienced Texas estate administration attorney can be helpful in accomplishing this task.