There are times when we feel the least ready to deal with difficult circumstances. And yet, we all have to do our best to protect our interests and do what’s best for us.

Personally, even while our daughters were just teenagers, we’d gather them every few years to give them a solid idea of what to do should I pass away, always reminding them, “I will take care of you everyday, whether I’m here, or not.”

Here are some important basics & reminders that I’ve outlined for my own family: (As always, please remember I’m only a real estate agent. PLEASE CONFIRM & SEEK COUNSEL FROM COMPETENT PROFESSIONALS AS APPROPRIATE.)

PRIMARY RESIDENCE: For many purposes it is smart to get an appraisal as of the date of death of the spouse. Some choose to get a formal appraisal, some simply get a valuation from a real estate agent. Please check with your professionals to see what is appropriate for you.

APPRAISALS: As a service to the families we serve, we’ve negotiated a deeply discounted price for these situations from an excellent professional appraiser. Typical rates are around $500, but for our families, please contact: JAKE SPIELMAN, 714-719-6034, FOR THE SPECIAL PRICE OF $250. Full disclosure: We receive no compensation for referring Jake’s services.

$500,000 PER COUPLE CAPITAL GAINS EXEMPTION: There are 2 general rules:
A. If the sale of the primary residence is completed within 2 YEARS of the date of death of the other spouse, the $500,000 capital gains exemption can be used. The sort of funny exception is the surviving spouse CANNOT be remarried within those 2 years. (Boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other may be permitted?!!!)

B. At any time, the STEP-UP in basis provision can be used to calculate capitals gains exposure (or lack of). For a SIMPLISTIC example, my wife & I bought our home 30 years ago for $200,000. The basis for capital gains calculations is $200,000. But I kicked the bucket last year, and now our home is valued at $600,000. The NEW basis AFTER I croaked becomes $400,000. (My wife’s part of the original $200,000 is her half of $100,000, while my $100,000 gets STEPPED-UP to $300,000 at my death, equals $400,000)

C. We HIGHLY discourage adding any family member to the title of your home for many reasons. There are proper ways of accomplishing tax planning & efficiencies without doing that.

AGAIN, please consult your tax and/or legal professional for your situation.

ESTATE PLANNING/LIVING TRUST ATTORNEY: We also have a relationship with a wonderful & fantastic local attorney. Just mention “Jack” and he’ll take care of you. John & I personally have him as our attorney as well for these matters. DAN PERRY, 909-393-0885. His office is in the 4-story white building off Ramona & Chino Hills Parkway. He will also make house calls free of charge for our families & clients who are not able to go to his office. Full disclosure: WE RECEIVE NO COMPENSATION OF ANY FORM FROM OUR REFERRAL. They are just great at what they do, and we are happy clients.

If you have any further questions, feel free to call us anytime at 909-262-3132.

Take care, and our hearts & thoughts & prayers go out to you & your family as you move through this time of your life.

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