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Taxability of Inheritances by Life Estate

Q: Our parents put their house in our, their children’s, names as a life estate. Both parents are deceased, and we have sold the home. Do we owe taxes? What forms, if any, need to be filed?

A: In the circumstances of a life estate, the basis of the ultimate owners is the fair value of the home at the date of the final life-tenant's death. Any difference between that amount and the net-sales price is a taxable gain or loss. Each child's pro rata share of a gain or loss must be reported on Schedule D of each individual tax return.

These questions are actual inquiries submitted by taxpayers to our AARP Tax-Aide Program. The AARP Tax-Aide Program is a volunteer-run, free tax-preparation and assistance program offered to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 and older. Our volunteers are trained and IRS-certified to understand individual federal-tax issues. Our volunteers provide tax assistance as a public service and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.


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