My brother died. How do we put a value on his property?


Q. I am the executor of my brother’s estate in New Jersey. What are the acceptable guidelines for an asset of the estate’s inventory? We will have Kelly Blue Book appraisal for the vehicle and the property tax value of his home. Are these adequate? What kind of detail would we need for the household items, most of which will be donated, but otherwise have little value?
— Sibling

A. We’re sorry to hear about your brother.

Putting value to the assets of an estate can be complicated.

The method used for valuing assets generally depends on the value of the entire estate and the primary purpose of the valuation as well as the particular object being valued, said Catherine Romania, an estate planning attorney with Witman Stadtmauer in Florham Park..

“For a small estate, without significantly valuable items, where the valuation is used solely to determine the basis of the items being inherited by the beneficiaries in order that the beneficiaries can later use that basis to calculate any gain or loss when they sell the item, less detail and documentation may be required than with respect to an estate that has significantly valuable items or is required to pay an estate tax,” Romania said.

So where estate tax is due, the property tax value of the home may not be sufficient and a market analysis by a realtor or an appraisal would be required, she said. Using the property tax value or the town’s assessed-to-true value would have to be considered and applied, she said.

As for the car, Romania said the Kelly Blue Book value is generally adequate for vehicles.

“For valuing household items or the contents of the home, an estimate supplied by an estate sales specialist can be obtained or a valuation list for donated items supplied by the Salvation Army and other charities can be utilized,” she said.

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This story was originally published on Nov. 3, 2022. 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.