Real estate inheritors learn value of living trusts

Time-consuming probate court raises costs, invites capital gains tax

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DEAR BOB: After our mother died in August 2003, my brother and I inherited her assets, which consisted mainly of her house plus stocks and bonds. Her will left everything to us equally. But the estate had to go through probate court proceedings. We just received title to her home recently and listed the house for sale with a local Realtor. Meanwhile, the house was vacant, costing us upkeep expenses. The only good thing resulting from the probate court delay is the house appreciated about $100,000 in market value. However, our probate attorney now tells us we will owe capital gain tax because our "stepped-up basis" was determined on the date of our mother's death. Why isn't there a law against this probate rip-off? – Cindy R. DEAR CINDY: If you are a regular reader, you know I constantly admonish readers to arrange a revocable living trust to avoid probate costs and delays for their heirs. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. Obviously, your mother didn't follow that advice. As ...