With the gift and estate tax exemptions currently at $5.34 million, you might think that estate valuations are less important. But even if you believe that your estate’s value is under the exemption amount, it’s still important to know the value of your assets.
First, your estate might be worth more than you think. For example, if you own an insurance policy on your life, the death benefit will be included in your estate, which may be enough to trigger estate tax liability.
Second, obtaining a qualified appraisal can limit the IRS’s ability to revalue your assets. If you make gifts that exceed the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion, you’ll need to file a gift tax return, even if the gift is within your lifetime exemption. Generally, the IRS has three years to audit gift tax returns and challenge reported values for gifted assets. But that period doesn’t begin until the gift has been “adequately disclosed.”
For assets that are difficult to value — such as closely held business interests or real estate — the best way to satisfy the adequate-disclosure requirements and avoid an IRS challenge is to include a qualified professional appraisal with your return.