With the death of a loved one, one question we often get is, “What assets are entitled to a step-up in basis and what assets aren’t entitled to a step-up in basis at death?” To define what we mean by step-up in basis, sometimes referred to as stepped-up basis, here is an example:
Your mother purchased 100 shares of XYZ company at $10 per share in 1950, costing her $1,000, which is her “basis.” She holds the shares without selling until she passes away in 2022. The share price is $1,000 per share at her date of death.
Despite the fact that she has a significant gain of $99,000 in this example, the basis “steps up” on the date of death to the share price on that date – or $100,000. If the beneficiary of this stock decides to sell it a few months later, their basis is $100,000 and the gain or loss is simply the value of the shares sold minus the basis. For example, if they were sold at a value of $110,000, they would owe tax on $10,000 of capital gains (and in this case, short-term capital gains).
Examples of Assets That Step-Up in Basis
- Individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) held in taxable accounts.
- Real estate – this includes many forms, such as multi-family residences, primary residences, vacation homes, and office buildings.
- Businesses and the equipment in the business.
- Art, collectibles, home furnishings – such as antiques that may have increased in value.
- Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Examples of Assets That Do NOT Step-Up in Basis
- Individual retirement accounts, including IRAs and Roth IRAs.
- 401(k), 403(b), 457 employer-sponsored retirement plans and pensions.
- Real estate that was gifted prior to inheritance.
- Tax-deferred annuities.
We encourage our clients to seek out the counsel of a qualified estate planning attorney to plan out their wishes and assure that they are making good choices regarding future taxation of their assets and avoiding unintended consequences of their actions.
Note: We are not CPAs. Please consult a tax professional if you have any tax questions specific to your own personal situation.