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Will I Receive A Step Up In Basis For The Appreciated Property I Inherited?

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

In most cases, there is a step-up in basis when property is transferred from a decedent. But there are a few exceptions and some subtle distinctions to keep in mind when a client inherits property.

To help make this analysis easier, we have created the “Will I Receive A Step-Up In Basis For The Appreciated Property I Inherited?” flowchart. It addresses some of the most common issues that arise for a client trying to understand their cost basis in the property they inherited. This flowchart considers:

  • Impact of living in a community property state

  • Types of property that receive a step-up

  • Impact of selecting the alternate valuation date

  • Simple ownership vs. JTWROS vs. tenants in common

In the realm of estate planning administration, the concept of step-up in basis plays a crucial role. When dealing with inherited property and assets after the passing of a loved one, it's essential to understand how the cost basis is determined. In this blog post, we will explore the flowchart of step-up in basis, addressing key considerations such as community property states, property types, alternate valuation dates, and ownership structures. By grasping these fundamental concepts, you can make informed decisions regarding estate planning and ensure a smoother administration process.

Step-Up in Basis:

Unraveling the Complexities By Todd Pouliot, Gateway Financial

Greetings, readers! Todd Pouliot from Gateway Financial here. Before we dive into today's topic, make sure to visit us at for more valuable information. Today, we'll be discussing a flowchart that we frequently navigate in our dealings with clients who have inherited property and are pondering the next steps in their estate planning administration.

Understanding the Basics:

When property is transferred from a decedent, it usually involves a step-up in basis. However, there are exceptions and subtle distinctions that need to be considered. Our goal is to simplify this analysis, and that's why we've created a flowchart called "Will I Receive a Step-Up in Basis for the Appreciated Property That I Inherited?" Let's delve into the four main areas covered in the flowchart.

  1. Impact of Living in a Community Property State: If you reside in a community property state, it's essential to determine the implications for your inherited property. The flowchart guides you through this process, providing clarity on whether a step-up in basis applies.

  2. Types of Property Eligible for Step-Up: Certain property types qualify for a step-up in basis, while others do not. By understanding this distinction, you can better assess the tax implications associated with your inherited assets.

  3. Impact of Selling or Selecting the Alternative Valuation Date: Choosing the right valuation date can significantly impact your cost basis. The flowchart explores the concept of an alternative valuation date, which can be selected up to six months after the decedent's death. We emphasize the importance of understanding and leveraging this option to your advantage, considering market conditions and other factors.

  4. Simple Ownership vs. Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship and Tenants in Common: Ownership structures can influence the step-up in basis. By examining the flowchart's guidance on these scenarios, you can gain insights into how joint ownership, survivorship, and tenancy impact the cost basis of the inherited property.

Navigating the Flowchart:

Now let's dive into the step-by-step process outlined in the flowchart. Remember, we've designed this blog post to be concise and informative, so we'll provide an overview of the key points.

  1. Gifting Property Within One Year Before the Decedent's Death: If you gifted the property within one year prior to the decedent's death, there is no step-up in basis. The property will be valued based on the decedent's adjusted basis.

  2. Inheriting Property from a Spouse: When inheriting property from a spouse, the flowchart prompts you to verify whether you live in a community property state. Depending on the circumstances, the step-up in basis may or may not apply.

  3. Property in IRA, 401K, Pension, Annuity, or Irrevocable Trust: For property held in these accounts or trusts, there is no step-up in basis since they are subject to income tax rates upon distribution.

  4. Alternate Valuation Date: The flowchart emphasizes the importance of the alternate valuation date. If selected, this date can influence your cost basis and potentially yield significant tax advantages.

  5. Property Sold Before the Alternate Valuation Date: Selling the property before the alternate valuation date can affect your cost basis, as it will be based on the value at the time of sale.

  6. Sole Ownership, Joint Tenancy, and Tenants in Common: The flowchart addresses the step-up in basis for these ownership structures, providing insights into how they impact the cost basis of the inherited property.

Understanding step-up in basis is crucial for effective estate planning administration. By following the flowchart and considering key factors like community property states, property types, valuation dates, and ownership structures, you can make informed decisions and optimize your tax position. Remember, each situation is unique, so consult with professionals to tailor the strategy to your specific circumstances.

We hope this blog post has shed light on the complexities of step-up in basis and its role in estate planning administration. For more valuable insights and resources, visit our website at Thank you for reading, and stay well!

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