Date of Death Appraisals

Settling an estate is something you won’t know much about until you have to go through the process firsthand.

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?

Will Photo

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.

Anyone involved in the settlement process may order a date of death appraisal.

The executor of the estate or another family member usually orders them. The accountant or lawyer may also order the appraisal.

Why You Might Need a Date of Death Appraisal

The main purpose of a date of death appraisal is to help determine the fair market value of the real estate as of the owner’s passing. This is mainly used for probate and tax purposes.


If you are the executor of an estate or the beneficiary of an inheritance, you may need the appraisal for probate.

“Probate is the formal legal process that gives recognition to a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries.” (Source)

The appraisal can help determine the value of the real estate, which can ensure a fair and equal distribution of assets.

Estate Taxes

A date of death valuation may also be needed for the IRS to determine whether or not taxes are owed on the property as of the date of death or in the future.

Depending on the total value of the real estate owned by the person who passed, estate taxes may be owed.

This number can vary by state, so it would be best to do more research.

Capital Gains Tax

When you inherit real estate from a deceased person, the basis of the property is “stepped up” to the property’s fair market value at the time of the person’s death.

This means that if you sell the property after inheriting it, you may have to pay capital gains tax on the difference.

The valuation will help to determine the basis at the time of death.

Inheritance tax

In some states, inheritance taxes are owed by the beneficiaries who inherit property from a deceased person.

However, not all states have inheritance taxes, and the rules and exemptions for these taxes also vary by jurisdiction.

Estate Planning

A date of death appraisal can be used for estate planning purposes ahead of any tragedy. The appraisal can help the owner plan in advance for taxes, distributions, donations, or the general value of the real estate.

Date of Death Appraisal Requirements

The IRS is fairly vague when it comes to appraisal guidelines for DOD appraisals. Aside from the report-specific guidelines, they don’t explicitly specify inspection requirements.


An estate appraisal can be completed with a full inspection or an exterior-only inspection. If there is enough information to produce a credible report, either is acceptable.

As a general rule, the more primary data the appraiser can gain about the subject property, the more accurate the appraisal will be.

I would not trust a desktop appraisal regarding a matter of this magnitude. 


You will want to order an appraisal as soon as possible, both for your sake and for the appraisers.

The appraisal is typically completed after the date of death and is often called a retrospective appraisal or historical 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 value appraisal may also be ordered at the same time to determine the value at the time when the title is transferred. If the dates are close enough, sometimes only one appraisal will be needed. 

Report Specific Guidelines

The appraiser should know the IRS report-specific guidelines for estate appraisals. There are additional requirements that your appraiser should be knowledgeable about.

Here is the full guide for estate administrators on the IRS website.

Hiring an Appraiser

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.

If you are working with an attorney or accountant, they will be able to help you with ordering the appraisal. Or you can order one directly and we can help you through the appraisal process itself.

We have completed hundreds of date of death appraisals in California over the years, and we know the specific IRS requirements needed for the appraisal.

If you need a date of death appraisal in the San Francisco Bay Area, or have more questions, please don’t hesitate to reach me at [email protected], or click here for 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, the 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.”

How long does it take to complete a date of death appraisal?

The appraisal should take the same time as a standard appraisal. Depending on the appraiser’s schedule, this could be anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks from start to finish.

Do I need a date of death appraisal?

If you are the estate administrator or involved in the estate settlement process, then you will most likely need a date of death appraisal. They can be used for probate, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes, or estate planning.