When it comes to planning for the future, it’s essential to consider what will happen to your assets. The process of valuing and distributing assets after death is known as probate. It can be a complex and daunting task for those unfamiliar with the process.
In Maryland, probate is governed by state law, and the process can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate. However, the first step in any probate process is to value the assets of the estate accurately.
What Are Assets Within an Estate?
Assets in an estate refer to all the property, investments, and other valuables that a person owns at the time of their death. This can include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Stocks and other investments
- Personal property
- Any other assets of value
When a person passes away, their assets are typically collected and managed by an executor or personal representative. This person is responsible for distributing the assets according to the person’s will or the laws of intestacy if there is no will. Valuing and distributing assets after death can be a complex process. Seeking the assistance of a probate attorney or financial professional can be helpful to ensure that the process is handled correctly.
Why is Asset Valuation Important in Probate?
The primary reason to value the assets of an estate accurately is to ensure that the property is distributed fairly to the beneficiaries. If the assets are not correctly valued, it could lead to a disparity in distribution or even disputes between beneficiaries.
Additionally, accurate asset valuation can impact the estate’s taxes. In Maryland, estate taxes are calculated based on the total value of the estate. This includes all property, investments, and other assets. Accurately valuing the estate’s assets can help reduce tax liability and ensure that the estate’s beneficiaries receive the maximum inheritance possible.
How to Value Your Estate’s Assets
The process of valuing your estate’s assets can vary depending on the type of property involved. However, there are a few general steps that most people can take to begin the process.
- Make a List of Assets: The first step in valuing your estate’s assets is to create a list. Include all the property and investments you own. This list should include bank accounts, real estate, stocks, retirement accounts, personal property, and any other assets of value.
- Determine the Fair Market Value: Once you have created a list of assets, the next step is to determine the fair market value of each item. This value is the price that a willing buyer would pay a willing seller in an open market. For some assets, like real estate, this can be relatively easy to determine by looking at recent sales in the area. For other assets, like personal property, it may require an appraisal or consultation with a professional.
- Consider Liabilities: When valuing your assets, it’s also essential to consider any outstanding debts or liabilities. These can include mortgages, credit card debt, car loans, and other financial obligations. Subtracting these liabilities from the total value of the estate can provide a more accurate picture of the estate’s net worth.
- Seek Professional Help: Valuing an estate’s assets can be a complicated process. This is especially true for those unfamiliar with the process. Seeking the assistance of a Maryland probate attorney or financial professional is essential. This will help ensure that the asset valuation process is accurate and thorough.
How Blackford & Flohr Can Help
At Blackford & Flohr, our experienced Maryland probate attorneys can assist with all aspects of the probate process, including accurate asset valuation. We understand the complexities of probate law. Our attornies can provide guidance and support to ensure that your assets are valued accurately and your beneficiaries receive the inheritance they deserve.
If you need help valuing your estate’s assets or have questions about the probate process in Maryland, contact Blackford & Flohr today. Our Severna Park probate attorneys are here to help you navigate this challenging time. Contact us via our online form to connect with an Anne Arundel County wills and trusts lawyer, or call 410-647-6677 today.