I inherited this home. Can I get the Senior Freeze?

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Q. My father died on Dec. 24, 2014 and I inherited his home after living with him several years before his death. I still live there but I did not receive the new deed until later in 2015. I’m 66, single and my income is below the maximum for the Senior Freeze. What is considered my ownership date for the Senior Freeze?
— Beneficiary

A. As you know, the Senior Freeze has several eligibility requirements, including age or disability, residency, homeownership, income limits and you must be paying the property taxes on the property during the ownership period.

But how you determine you date of ownership will may depend on how you inherited the home upon your father’s death.

“If the home was specifically bequeathed to you in your father’s will, and assuming you were paying the real estate taxes and other carrying charges of the home upon your father’s death, the argument could be made that as of the date of death you became the owner of the home and the execution of the deed by the executor of the estate merely evidenced such ownership,” said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park.

But if your father died intestate – without a will – or if his will did not specifically bequeath to you the real estate, and if you were not paying the real estate taxes and other expenses for the property since the date of death, then clearly the estate held ownership until title was transferred to you by deed, she said.

Also note that for capital gains purposes, when a home is included in a decedent’s estate, it is the date of death value of the home that’s considered a beneficiary’s initial basis, not the assessed value, Romania said.

“Although the date of death value may equal the assessed value, the two values are not necessarily the same especially in towns where the true to assessed value ratio is not 100 percent,” she said.

Email your questions to moc.p1568990342leHye1568990342noMJN1568990342@ksA1568990342.

This story was originally published on Sept. 2, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.