Donald C. Reutemann CFP®, RPA

(518) 688-2223

Estate Read Time: 4 min

Understanding the Alternate Valuation Date

When an individual dies, the executor is faced with an important decision that has the potential to impact the taxes owed by the estate and its heirs. The executor will have the option of valuing the estate on the date of death, or alternately, on the six-month anniversary of death – the latter is, fittingly, referred to as the “Alternate Valuation Date.”1,2

Pick a Date

It may seem like an obvious decision and simple choice, but it’s not. Here’s why.

For estates with substantial holdings in stocks, the use of the Alternate Valuation Date may be an appropriate approach if the executor believes stock prices will be lower than they were on the date of death.

When heirs inherit assets, such as stocks, they may receive a step-up in the cost basis of the asset if its value is higher than it was when the original owner acquired it. The heirs’ valuation is reset to either the value on the date of the owner's death or the value on the Alternate Valuation Date – whichever is chosen by the executor.3

Market Moves

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example. Let’s say Dad bought Out-of-Date Technologies several years ago when stock prices were $10 per share. At his death, the stock was worth $35. The executor used the Alternate Valuation Date, and six months later, due to market movements, the stock was worth $28.

His heir, Julie, will inherit this asset and receive a step-up in the cost basis of it to $28, the value declared by the estate. Now, let’s assume that Julie sells the stock a short time later at $35 per share.

If the estate had used the value on the date of death ($35), she might not have owed capital gains tax, as she would have been selling the stock at the same price as her cost basis. But since she received the stock with the lower cost basis ($28 – the Alternate Valuation Date), capital gains tax on the $7-per-share gain may be due.4

In this example, the estate saved money by electing the Alternate Valuation Date, but the heir was exposed to a lower cost basis as well as the prospect of paying higher capital gains tax in the future.

Consider & Balance

As the executor thinks through this balancing act, they should consider the relative prevailing tax rates for the estate and which approach may result in the most efficient transfer, net of taxes, to the heirs.

Keep in mind that the information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.

1. The article assumes the deceased has a valid will and has named an executor, who is responsible for carrying out the directions of the will. If a person dies intestate, it means that a valid will has not been executed. Without a valid will, a person’s property will be distributed to the heirs as defined by state law.
2. IRS.gov, 2021
3. Investopedia.com, 2021
4. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific investment or combination of investments.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright FMG Suite.

Share |
 

Related Content

Split Annuity Strategy

Split Annuity Strategy

Here's one strategy that combines two different annuities to generate income and rebuild principal.

5 Original Ways to Show Your Love

5 Original Ways to Show Your Love

One of the best ways to love the people you care about is through properly protecting yourself, and them.

Silver Sneakers 101

Silver Sneakers 101

Medicare’s popular program, offering free gym membership and health education.

 

Have A Question About This Topic?







Thank you! Oops!

Starting a Roth IRA for a Teen

This early financial decision could prove helpful over time.

The Business Cycle

Understanding the economy's cycles can help put current business conditions in better perspective.

Not Just Equal Pay, Equal Job Security

While this may feel like a golden age for the LGBTQ community—with the affirmation of marriage equality and a cultural shift embracing diversity—these successes may distract...

View all articles

My Retirement Savings

Estimate how long your retirement savings may last using various monthly cash flow rates.

What Is My Life Expectancy?

Estimate how many years you may need retirement assets or how long to provide income to a surviving spouse or children.

Assess Your Life Insurance Needs

This calculator estimates how much life insurance you would need to meet your family's needs if you were to die prematurely.

View all calculators

Protecting Those Who Matter Most

The importance of life insurance, how it works, and how much coverage you need.

Your Cash Flow Statement

A presentation about managing money: using it, saving it, and even getting credit.

5 Smart Investing Strategies

There are some smart strategies that may help you pursue your investment objectives

View all presentations

The Junk Drawer Approach to Investing

It's easy to let investments accumulate like old receipts in a junk drawer.

Behavioral Finance

An amusing and whimsical look at behavioral finance best practices for investors.

Jane Bond: Infiltrating the Market

Agent Jane Bond is on the case, cracking the code on bonds.

View all videos