Date of Death Appraisals

Will Photo

Settling an estate is one of those things you don’t know much about until you have to go through the process yourself.

It can be a hard process, especially for the executor and family members involved.

If you are in a situation where you need a date of death appraisal, I hope this information helps you.

What is a Date of Death Appraisal?

Date of death appraisals, or estate appraisals, help to determine the Fair Market Value of the real estate as of the time of the owner’s passing. 

They are usually completed by a state-licensed real estate appraiser when settling an estate. This appraiser is referred to as a qualified appraiser by the IRS.

A date of death appraisal may be ordered by anyone involved in the settlement process. Typically they are ordered by the executor of the estate or another family member. They may also be ordered by the accountant or lawyer. 

Appraisal Guidelines

Estate appraisals can be completed as a full appraisal or an exterior-only appraisal, as long as there is enough information to produce a credible report. 

The IRS sets no guidelines when it comes to the inspection itself, but I would not trust a desktop appraisal when it comes to a matter of this magnitude. 

Typically the appraisal is completed after the date of death and is called a “retrospective appraisal.” This means that although the inspection date may be later in time, the effective date of the appraisal is a date in the past (Usually the date of death). 

A current appraisal may also be ordered at the same time to determine the current value at the time when the title is transferred. If the dates are close enough, sometimes only one appraisal will be needed. 

The Positives

Although this can be hard for everyone involved, the appraisal process doesn’t have to be. 

There is no reason to worry when professionals can help you through the process. Your attorney or accountant will be able to help you with ordering the appraisal, and we can help you through the appraisal process itself.

If you need a date of death appraisal in Marin County or surrounding areas or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me at, or click here to get a free appraisal fee quote.

Frequently Asked Questions about Date of Death Appraisals

When should a date of death appraisal be done?

According to the IRS, an appraisal should be done within six months following the date of death. With that being said, the sooner you start the appraisal process, the better. You never know how busy appraisers will be in your area, and sometimes the appraisal process can take up to a month from start to finish if the appraisers are busy. 

What is the purpose of a date of death appraisal?

The date of death appraisal is needed to determine the fair market value of the real estate as of the owner’s date of death. This is necessary when settling the estate either in probate or outside of probate.

What does FMV on date of death appraisal mean?

FMV stands for Fair Market Value. According to the IRS, Fair Market Value is “…the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed on between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.”